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PJ Murphy, A Ntola, S Patel, J Marshall; The Effect of Age and Gender on Corneal Sensitivity to a Thermally Cooling Stimulus . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):1685.
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Purpose: To assess the variation in corneal sensation threshold with age and gender to the thermally cooling stimulus of the Non-Contact Corneal Aesthesiometer (NCCA). Methods: 1) Effect of Age: 96 healthy, non-contact lens wearing subjects were recruited and divided into three groups: Young (up to 29 years) 49 subjects (mean age = 23.1 years), Middle (30-59 years) 27 subjects (mean age = 42.6 years) and Older (60+ years) 20 subjects (mean age = 69 years. 2) Effect of Gender: The 49 young, healthy, non-contact lens wearers were then allocated to one of two sub-groups composing 21 Males (mean age = 24.3 years, range = 20-29) and 28 Females (mean age = 21.9 years, range = 19-28). None of the female subjects in the study were pregnant, or were menstruating at the time of measurement, nor were they taking any medication that could interfere with normal hormone levels. 3) Instrumentation: The corneal sensation threshold was located for the centre of the right eye of each subject and also at three peripheral locations - temporal, nasal and inferior, approximately 1mm from the limbus - using the NCCA. This instrument produces a controlled pulse of air, of known pressure and duration, which is directed at the anterior surface of the eye. The air-pulse causes a small, localised reduction in the surface temperature of the eye, which is detected by the nerves in the corneal epithelium. The corneal sensation threshold for this stimulus was assessed using a double-staircase, method of limits technique. Results: : Log transformation of the data was necessary to allow parametric statistical analysis. 1) Effect of Age: Significant differences were found between the central corneal sensation thresholds for the three groups: two-way t-test, p=0.001. A similar pattern of significant differences was found when the three peripheral corneal testing locations were compared. 2) Effect of Gender: No significant differences were found between Male and Female corneal sensation thresholds at any testing location: two-way t-test, p≷0.05. Conclusion: The pattern of change in corneal sensation with age and gender to a thermally cooling stimulus has been assessed. 1) There is a gradual reduction in corneal sensitivity with increasing age, with a corresponding increase in the standard deviation of the mean. 2) There is no difference in corneal sensitivity between young males and females at any of the corneal test locations.
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