Importance: Residential (geographic) history and extent of solar exposure may be important risk factors for exfoliation syndrome (XFS) but, to our knowledge, detailed lifetime solar exposure has not been previously evaluated in XFS.
Objective: To assess the relation between residential history, solar exposure, and XFS.
Design, setting, and participants: This clinic-based case-control study was conducted in the United States and Israel. It involved XFS cases and control individuals (all ≥ 60-year-old white individuals) enrolled from 2010 to 2012 (United States: 118 cases and 106 control participants; Israel: 67 cases and 72 control participants).
Main outcomes and measures: Weighted lifetime average latitude of residence and average number of hours per week spent outdoors as determined by validated questionnaires.
Results: In multivariable analyses, each degree of weighted lifetime average residential latitude away from the equator was associated with 11% increased odds of XFS (pooled odds ratio [OR], 1.11; 95% CI, 1.05-1.17; P < .001). Furthermore, every hour per week spent outdoors during the summer, averaged over a lifetime, was associated with 4% increased odds of XFS (pooled OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00-1.07; P = .03). For every 1% of average lifetime summer time between 10 am and 4 pm that sunglasses were worn, the odds of XFS decreased by 2% (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.97-0.99; P < .001) in the United States but not in Israel (OR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.99-1.01; P = .92; P for heterogeneity = .005). In the United States, after controlling for important environmental covariates, history of work over water or snow was associated with increased odds of XFS (OR, 3.86; 95% CI, 1.36-10.9); in Israel, there were too few people with such history for analysis. We did not identify an association between brimmed hat wear and XFS (P > .57).
Conclusions and relevance: Lifetime outdoor activities may contribute to XFS. The association with work over snow or water and the lack of association with brimmed hat wear suggests that ocular exposure to light from reflective surfaces may be an important type of exposure in XFS etiology.