Relationship between Ocular Surface Alterations and Concentrations of Aerial Particulate Matter


Purpose: To evaluate ocular surface alterations in two populations at different exposure levels to particulate matter (PM) in their living and work environments.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted, including 78 volunteers from Argentina who lived and worked under different pollution levels in an urban (U; n = 44) or industrial zone (I; n = 34). Mean exposure level to PM was evaluated. Responses to the Ocular Symptom Disease Index and McMonnies questionnaire were obtained from all subjects. Subsequently, an assessment through the Schirmer I test (ST), slit lamp microscopy, vital staining, and tear breakup time was conducted. Statistical analyses with Chi-square and Bartlett’s tests, as well as Student’s t-tests and principal component analysis (PCA), were performed.

Results: Particles of size < 2.5 μm (PM2.5) level was significantly higher in the I group than the U group (P = 0.04). Ocular surface parameters including bulbar redness, eyelid redness, and the degree of vital staining with fluorescein (SF) and lissamine green (SLG) exhibited difference between the groups. With regards to the tear film, statistically significant differences in the ST value and meibomian gland dysfunction between the groups were detected (P = 0.003 and P = 0.02, respectively). Conjunctival SF and SLG, and ST values were identified as factors which could distinguish groups exposed to different PM levels.

Conclusion: Subjects exposed to higher levels of PM in the outdoor air presented greater ocular surface alterations. Thus, ST, SF, and SLG values could be used as convenient indicators of adverse health effects due to exposure to air pollution.


Environmental, Ocular Surface, Particulate Matter, Schirmer I Test, Vital Staining

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