Sex and age differences in symptoms and signs of dry eye disease in a Norwegian cohort of patients. Ocul Surf 2020;Abstract.
PURPOSE: To investigate sex and age differences in symptoms and signs in a Norwegian clinic-based cohort of patients with dry eye disease (DED). METHODS: Visitors at the Norwegian Dry Eye Clinic were examined using Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaire score, tear osmolarity, tear break-up time (TFBUT), ocular surface staining, corneal sensitivity, Schirmer I test, and meibum expressibility (ME) and quality (MQ). A diagnosis of DED was made by an ophthalmologist based on symptoms and signs, and only DED patients were enrolled in the study: 1823 patients (338 males; mean age 51.2 ± 16.2 years; 1485 females; mean age 52.5 ± 16.0 years). The patients were divided into age subgroups: 20-39 years, 40-59 years and ≥60 years. Sex differences in the aforementioned tests were analyzed. Values were reported as mean ± standard deviation (SD), and intergroup comparisons were performed using Mann-Whitney U test. Multiple regression was used to analyze sex and age influences on symptoms and signs. RESULTS: When patients of all ages were analyzed, females had increased osmolarity, shorter TFBUT, reduced MQ and ME and higher corneal sensitivity. OSDI, Schirmer I test, ocular surface staining and corneal staining were not significantly different between the sexes. Only with TFBUT and ME were the sex difference present in all age subgroups. Multiple regression showed that all parameters were influenced by either sex or age, but only TFBUT and ME were influenced by both sex and age. (all p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Sex and age differences in dry eye were most consistent in TFBUT and ME, that indicate differences in meibomian gland functionality. Sex and age subgroup stratification is important in future studies investigating DED in other populations.