Purpose. To determine if the discomfort associated with pterygium is different for men and women.
Methods. Subjects were selected from patients attending a clinic in Guanajuato, Mexico, which has a high prevalence of pterygium. Discomfort was determined using a Spanish version of an English questionnaire designed to evaluate symptoms in dry eye patients. Questions were asked regarding seven sensations of discomfort, and five environmental sources of irritation that were not present in the original questionnaire: smoke, cigarette smoke, dust, wind, and sun. Most of the subjects had limited reading skills so the questionnaire was administered orally. Two subsamples are reported. In the first subsample, the interviewer was a male interviewer and the subsample was made up of 28 matched pairs of subjects selected from a total of 110 subjects (one man and one woman in each pair with the same age and pterygium stage). In the second subsample, the interviewer was a female interviewer and made up of 16 matched pairs selected from a total of 70 subjects. Pterygium staging was based on a scale in which progression was staged on a scale of one to five. The data was analyzed statistically using the Mann-Whitney U test (two-tailed).
Results. The subjects had an age range of 41 to 82 years. The pterygium stages ranged from localized minor disturbances of the nasal conjunctiva (one on the scale) to compound pterygium (five on the scale). The difference in ocular surface discomfort between men and women was statistically significant for both the male interviewer (P < 0.001) and the female interviewer (P < 0.01).
Conclusions. Women with pterygium report more discomfort than men. It is likely that men and women with other sources of ocular surface discomfort also respond differently to pain.