Prevalence of pterygium in indigenous Australians within central Australia: the Central Australian Ocular Health Study

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2011 Sep-Oct;39(7):604-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2011.02532.x. Epub 2011 Apr 27.


Background: To determine the prevalence of pterygium within the indigenous Australian population living in central Australia.

Design: Clinic-based cross-sectional study.

Participants: A total of 1884 individuals living in one of 30 remote communities within the statistical local area of 'Central Australia'. This equated to 36% of those aged ≥20 years and 67% of those aged ≥40 years within this district.

Methods: PARTICIPANTS aged 20 years or over were recruited as they presented to the eye clinic at each remote community. Slit-lamp examination was performed, and the presence of a pterygium or evidence of previous pterygium surgery was recorded.

Main outcome measures: The prevalence of a pterygium in one or both eyes is presented.

Results: Pterygium was present in one or both eyes of 9.3% of individuals aged 40 years or older. Right and left eyes were affected equally (χ(2) = 0.19; P = 0.91). There was a significant association between the presence of a pterygium and age (t = 3.99; P < 0.0001). There was no association with gender (χ(2) = 1.06; P = 0.30).

Conclusion: Pterygium was present in a significantly higher proportion of indigenous Australians compared with non-indigenous Australians. This is similar to previous findings of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program and may be due to a difference in proportion of hours spent outdoors and consequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / ethnology*
  • Northern Territory / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Pterygium / ethnology*
  • Pterygium / pathology
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Distribution
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Young Adult