Dry Eye & Pterygium Incidence (2014)


Learn more about pterygium.


Noting the frequent association between dry eye and pterygium, researchers decided to find out whether there was also an association between pterygium and malfunction of the meibomian gland, which is a cause of dry eye.

The meibomian gland produces meibum, an oily substance which spreads over the surface of the cornea, on top of the tear film and helps protect the integrity of the tear film. In dry eye if the meibomian glands are not producing enough meibum then tears evaporate rapidly from the surface of the eye causing soreness, redness, irritation and tearing.

These researchers felt that meibomian gland malfunction might be a missing link between the two conditions. Indeed, they did find just that. Patients with pterygium were significantly more likely to have problems with the effectiveness of their meibomian glands.

Researchers: H. Wu, Z. Lin, et al
Published: Meibomian Gland Dysfunction Correlates to the Tear Film Instability and Ocular Discomfort in Patients with Pterygium, Scientific Reports, March, 2017.


Noting that dry eye often occurs simultaneously with pterygium researchers investigated the rate of tear film break up and the concentration of the tear film components - both of which are factors in dry eye syndrome.

They found that tear film breakup was faster in patients with pterygium and that tear osmolarity was greater. Pterygium patients also had greater redness of the conjunctiva.

Researchers: M. Ozsutcu, B. Arslan, et al,
Published: Tear osmolarity and tear film parameters in patients with unilateral pterygium, Cornea, November, 2014.

Another study of 92 patients between 29 and 78 years old with pterygium found similar results. As in the other 2014 study the size of the pterygium was not correlated with tear break up or osmolarity.

Researchers: K. Kampitak, et al,
Published: Journal of Medical Association of Thailand, May, 2014.