To evaluate the prevalence of and risk factors for dry eye disease (DED) in an elderly Korean population.
This population-based study in Yongin, Korea, included 657 individuals 65 years or older randomly selected from an official household registration database. Dry eye symptoms were assessed using a 6-item questionnaire, and DED was defined as having 1 or more dry eye symptoms often or all the time. Dry eye tests, including the Schirmer test, tear film break-up time measured using fluorescein, cornea fluorescein staining, and examination for meibomian gland dysfunction, were performed.
The crude prevalence of DED was 30.3%, and the age-, sex-, and region (urban vs rural)–adjusted prevalence was 33.2%. Women (P = .01) and urban dwellers (P = .001) were more likely to have DED. Of those with DED, 85.1% had tear film break-up time of 10 seconds or less, 54.1% had meibomian gland dysfunction, 39.2% had a fluorescein score of 1 or greater, and 32.8% had a Schirmer test score of 5 mm or less. A low Schirmer score was correlated with increased prevalence of DED, although sensitivity was low.
Dry eye disease is common in elderly Koreans; female sex and living in an urban region were strongly correlated with its frequency. We also noted a positive correlation between low Schirmer test scores and symptom-based DED.