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Prevalence of pterygium in Latinos: Proyecto VER
  1. S West,
  2. B Muñoz
  1. Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr S West, Wilmer Eye Institute, Room 129, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA; shwest{at}


Aims: Pterygium is a common corneal eye condition that can be disfiguring and may require surgery to avoid loss of vision. There are no population-based data on the prevalence or on risk factors among Latinos.

Methods: A population-based sample of 4774 self-reported Latinos age ⩾40 years from randomly selected block groups in Nogales and Tucson, Arizona, USA, were enrolled in the study. Questionnaires were conducted in the home on risk factors. A clinical examination by an experienced ophthalmologist was carried out, and the presence of pterygium was diagnosed at the examination.

Results: The prevalence of pterygium was high (overall 16%). Men had a higher rate than women (23.7% versus 11.5%, respectively). 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 were 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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  • Funding This study was supported by grant number EY11283 from the National Eye Institute. The funding agency had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Ethics approval Study procedures complied with the Declaration of Helsinki. All procedures and protocols were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Arizona.

  • Patient consent Written, informed consent was obtained by each participant, in either Spanish or English as the participant wished.