Purpose: To study the prevalence and associations of dry eye symptoms in adult Chinese.
Methods: The Beijing Eye Study is a population-based study in northern China, which included 4439 of 5324 subjects invited to participate with an age of 40+ years (response rate: 83.4%). For the present study, a random sample was taken consisting of 1957(44.1%) subjects (1112 women; 56.9%). Dry eye symptoms were evaluated with (1) an interviewer-assisted questionnaire; (2) measurement of the tear-film break-up time; (3) assessment of the fluorescein staining of the cornea; (4) slit-lamp-based examination of a meibomian gland dysfunction; and (5) Schirmer's test.
Results: Symptoms of a dry eye felt 'often' or 'at all times' were present in 411 subjects (21.0%). In a multivariate analysis, dry eye symptoms were significantly associated with age (P<0.001), female gender (P<0.001; odds ratio (OR): 1.56; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.23, 1.98), urban region (P<0.001;OR: 1.89; 95% CI: 1.46, 2.48), low degree of nuclear cataract (P=0.02), and undercorrection of refractive error (P=0.005; OR: 1.42; 95% CI: 1.11, 1.82). All tests for dry eye did not vary significantly between the dry eye group and the normal group.
Conclusions: The dry eye symptoms as evaluated subjectively in a questionnaire occurred in about 21% of the adult population in China, with associations to age, female gender, urban region, and undercorrection of a refractive error. Measurement of the tear-film break-up time, assessment of the corneal fluorescein staining, slit-lamp-based examination of a meibomian gland dysfunction, and Schirmer's test were not significantly associated with dry eye symptoms.