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August 1963

Pterygium Among Veterans: An Epidemiologic Study Showing a Correlation Between Frequency of Pterygium and Degree of Exposure of Ultraviolet in Sunlight

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md; Washington, DC
EIS Officer, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness (Dr. Darrell).; Chief, Geographic Epidemiology, Research Service, Division of Medicine and Surgery, Veterans Administration (Dr. Bachrach).; Present address: Institute of Ophthalmology, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York 32 (Dr. Darrell).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1963;70(2):158-169. doi:10.1001/archopht.1963.00960050160004

Pterygium is said to be a common disease in many countries located between approximately 37 degrees north and south latitude.1,2 For example, in northern New Zealand, operations for pterygium outnumber those for cataract, whereas in England, at 50 to 60 degrees of latitude, pterygium is reported to account for less than 1% of all eye operations.3 In order to explain this apparent variation in geographic distribution, environmental differences in mean annual temperature, humidity, dust, and ultraviolet radiation have been proposed.1,3-8 Impressed by the common occurrence of pterygium in the American Southwest, McReynolds concluded that the responsible factors were "heat, a dry atmosphere, high winds, exposure to sunlight, and an abundance of dust."5 Anderson noted the increasing percentage of eye operations performed for pterygium toward the northern, western, and central parts of Australia and compared this pattern to the progressive decrease in humidity in the corresponding areas.

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