Gender and ethnic differences in pterygium prevalence: an audit of remote Australian clinics

Aisling B. McGlacken-Byrne, Jocelyn J. Drinkwater, David A. Mackey, Angus W. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Clinical relevance: Developing an accurate picture of the demographic profile and refractive status of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals with pterygium will facilitate health planning and appropriate deployment of health-care resources in rural Australia. Background: To date, there is a paucity of reports in the literature regarding Aboriginal ocular health and refractive error. This study examines clinical data from a rural ophthalmology outreach clinic – a predominantly Aboriginal population. Methods: An assessment was undertaken of data of 293 patients noted to have pterygium present in at least one eye, from a sample of 2,072 individuals seen in rural northern Western Australia in 2017 by the Lions Outback Vision Visiting Optometry Service. Results: Pterygium was found in 14.1 per cent (n = 293) of patients using the Lions Outback Vision service. The mean age of those with pterygium (n = 293) was 57.1 ± 11.9 years (mean ± standard deviation); 188 were female (64.1 per cent); 260 identified as Aboriginal (88.7 per cent), 22 identified as non-Aboriginal (7.5 per cent) and 11 did not specify (3.8 per cent). There were more males than females with pterygium in the non-Aboriginal group (18.0 per cent versus 6.4 per cent); however, the reverse was true in the Aboriginal group (11.7 per cent versus 17.0 per cent). Analysis of the subjective refractive data in those with pterygium revealed an overall mean spherical equivalent value of +0.66 ± 1.28 DS. The median (interquartile range) best-corrected visual acuity was 0.0 (−0.1 to 0.0) logMAR (6/6 Snellen equivalent). Conclusions: This paper increases our knowledge of ocular health in a remote Australian population, with an emphasis on the differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals, males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-77
Number of pages4
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number1
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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