University of Oulu

Aapola, U., Nättinen, J., Suurkuukka, I., Tuomilehto, J., Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi, S., Saramies, J. and Uusitalo, H. (2022), Ocular surface health of the Finnish elderly population. Acta Ophthalmol, 100: 894-902.

Ocular surface health of the Finnish elderly population

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Author: Aapola, Ulla1; Nättinen, Janika1; Suurkuukka, Ilona2;
Organizations: 1SILK, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
2South Karelia Social and Health Care District, South Karelia, Finland
3Public Health Promotion Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
4Saudi Diabetes Research Group, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
5Department of International Health, National School of Public Health, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
6Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Tays Eye Centre, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-19


Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe the clinical ocular surface characteristics in a population-based sample of Finnish elderly people.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 601 subjects (335 females, 266 males) born between the years 1933–1956 and living in Savitaipale, Finland. Ocular surface health was evaluated using a comprehensive set of diagnostic tests. Previous dry eye (DE) diagnosis and history of drug treatment of DE were also recorded. Differences between sexes were estimated with Wilcoxon rank sum test and Fisher’s exact test.

Results: Overall, 10% and 33% of people displayed signs of DE and ocular surface disease (OSD), respectively, and 30% had been previously diagnosed with DE and 36% used some form of drugs for DE. Men displayed more severe signs of meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis and conjunctival redness (p < 0.001), while women had higher scores in corneal staining (p = 0.005) and OSD Index (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Signs of OSD and DE are common among the Finnish elderly population. However, the diagnosis is affected by the diagnostic criteria used and significant differences exist between sexes. Although women were more frequently diagnosed with DE and OSD and experienced more ocular surface irritation, men had more often lid and meibomian gland-related issues. The current diagnostic criteria of DE pose a risk of misclassifying men, who commonly display less severe symptoms in comparison with women yet exhibit more severe clinical signs associated especially with the lid margin.

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Series: Acta ophthalmologica
ISSN: 1755-375X
ISSN-E: 1755-3776
ISSN-L: 1755-375X
Volume: 100
Issue: 8
Pages: 894 - 902
DOI: 10.1111/aos.15130
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3125 Otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology
Funding: This work was supported by Business Finland, Elsemay Björn Fund, Glaukooma Tukisäätiö Lux, Pirkanmaa Regional Fund and Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Helsinki University Hospital. The funding sources were not involved in study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, decision to publish or preparation of this article.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Acta Ophthalmologica published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavica Foundation. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.