A study conducted in Russia examined dry eye disease (DED) and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) prevalence and associations in a population of elderly rural and urban individuals. The researchers noted that their study’s results build on the observations in the sex-related differences in DED prevalence made in previous studies among a population aged 85+ years, an age group for which almost no information has been available so far.

The study included 1,493 individuals from the Ural Very Old Study with available information about DED (mean age: 88.3 years); all underwent detailed ocular and medical examinations. Schirmer’s test was ≤5mm in 34.3% of participants, and the mean score of subjective dry eye symptoms was 7.52. MGD grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 were diagnosed in 31.4%, 26.4%, 7.6% and 3.3% eyes, respectively.

For the diagnosis of DED, the study used several definitions to make the results of the present study comparable with those of previous investigations. The prevalence of DED diagnosis using definitions #2 (dry eye score ≥8, Schirmer’s test ≤5 mm) and #4 (dry eye score ≥7, Schirmer’s test ≤5 mm, MGD grade 1+) were 14.5% and 14.8%, respectively. In multivariate analysis, higher DED prevalence of diagnosis definition #2 was associated with female sex (odds ratio [OR]: 2.36), rural region of habitation (OR: 2.72), longer axial length (OR: 1.30), higher hearing loss score (OR: 1.03) and lower self-reported salt consumption (OR: 0.64). If definition #4 for the DED diagnosis was used, a higher DED prevalence was associated with rural region of habitation, lower salt consumption and higher hearing loss score, while the relationships with sex and axial length were not statistically significant.

While this investigation was the first on DED and MGD prevalence in such a cohort, the researchers noted, “The observations made in the present very old study population cannot directly be compared with the findings obtained in previous studies since the present study is the first investigation on a population with a minimum age of 85 years.”

Bikbov MM, Kazakbaeva GM, Rakhimova EM, et al. The prevalence of dry eye in a very old population. Acta Ophthalmol. June 14, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].