To assess the sociodemographic and health-related risk factors associated with pterygium and its subtypes in Korea.
From 2008 to 2010, a total of 14,920 randomly selected national representative participants of the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey underwent additional ophthalmologic examinations by the Korean Ophthalmologic Society. The risk factors for pterygium in general or according to subtype (atrophic, intermediate, and fleshy) were identified using multivariate logistic regression analysis.
The prevalence of pterygium was 6.7% (95% confidence interval, 5.9–7.5) in subjects aged 30 years or older. Older age, male sex, lower educational level, rural habitation, nonsmoking, and sun exposure were independent risk factors for pterygium. Among subjects with pterygium, older age, male sex, lower educational level, and nonsmoking were independent risk factors for all types of pterygium. Sun exposure for >5 h/d was the independent risk factor for the severe pterygium subtype.
Socioeconomic disparities in pterygium development exist. Proper ocular examination and education to avoid excessive sun exposure would be helpful in reducing disease risk.