Pterygium and conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence in young Australian adults: the Raine study

Charlotte Mcknight, Justin Sherwin, Seyhan Yazar, Hannah Forward, Alexander Tan, Alex Hewitt, Elliot Smith, David Turton, P Byrd, Craig Pennell, T Coroneo, David Mackey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
591 Downloads (Pure)



Sun exposure is associated with several ophthalmic diseases, including pterygium which may develop in adolescence. This study reports the prevalence of pterygium and its associations in a large cohort of young Australian adults. Conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence, a biomarker of ocular sun exposure, has recently been characterized in some Australian populations.


Cross-sectional population-based study.


One thousand three hundred forty-four subjects aged 18–22 years in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study.


Standardized colour and ultraviolet autofluorescence photographs of the nasal and temporal conjunctiva were taken, and assessed for presence of pterygium and area of autofluorescence. Sun exposure and protective factors were assessed by structured questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures

Area of conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence in square millimetre (mm2) and presence of pterygium.


Median total conjunctival autofluorescence was 44.2 mm2 (interquartile range 20.2–69.8 mm2). Median conjunctival autofluorescence was higher in nasal than in temporal quadrants (23.8 mm2 vs. 18.9 mm2, P < 0.001), but did not differ according to age or gender. Higher body mass index was associated with lower levels of autofluorescence. Total autofluorescence increased with increasing time spent outdoors. Prevalence of pterygium was 1.2% (95% confidence interval 0.6–1.8%), and was associated with male gender (odds ratio 6.71, P = 0.012). Participants with pterygium had significantly more conjunctival autofluorescence than those without (median 73.4 mm2 vs. 44.0 mm2, P = 0.001).


Conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence is associated with increased time spent outdoors, and increased prevalence of pterygium. The association of this biomarker with other ophthalmohelioses, including cataract, ocular surface squamous neoplasia and eyelid malignancy, has yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-307
JournalClinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Pterygium and conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence in young Australian adults: the Raine study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this