Background: Pterygium is a common corneal eye condition that can be disfiguring and require surgery to avoid vision loss. There are no population based data on the prevalence or risk factors among Latinos.
Methods: A population-based sample of 4774 self-reported Latinos age 40 and older from randomly selected block groups in Nogales and Tucson, Arizona were enrolled in the study. Questionnaires were conducted in the home on risk factors. A clinic examination by an experienced ophthalmologist was carried out on everyone, and the presence of pterygium was diagnosed at the exam.
Results: The prevalence of pterygium was high, overall 16%. Males had higher rates compared to females, 23.7% versus 11.5%. Low income and low educational status were associated with higher odds of pterygium. Current smoking, and smoking dose, was protective for pterygium; this finding has now been reported from several studies.
Conclusions: Pterygium rates are high in this population of Latinos. Socioeconomic status markers for increased exposure to sunlight suggest this may be the target of simple interventions to reduce the risk of pterygium in this ethnic population.
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