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Maria Alejandra Idarraga, Juan Sebastian Guerrero, Frank Miralles, Sarah Rock, Samantha Mosle, Anat Galor, Naresh Kumar; Short-term exposure to indoor environment and the severity of dry eye symptoms. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(7):395.
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Dry eye (DE) symptoms are a common ocular complain and a significant source of morbidity, despite medical treatment. While current literature shows the adverse effects of chronic exposure to air pollutants on the ocular surface, there is insufficient data on the effects of short-term exposure to indoor environments on DE symptoms. We hypothesize that older buildings are likely to have elevated concentrations of air pollutants and bioaerosols and that short-term exposure to these can worsen DE symptoms.
We used a prospective experimental research design, in which an older building (Calder Library) served as an experimental site, and a newer Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified building (Clinical Research Center) served as the control site. Indoor air quality was monitored inside these buildings. 194 randomly selected individuals, >18 y, were interviewed on departure from the buildings and their responses were recorded using an automated data collection system. Self-reported DE symptoms were modelled with respect to experimental and control conditions adjusting for potential confounders. Given the use of deidentified data, the study was IRB exempt.
The experimental site had 2x higher concentration of airborne particulate matter (24,436 vs 12,213 µm/ft3) and microbial colonies (1,066 vs 400/m3), as compared to the control site. DE symptoms were reported by 37% vs 28% of individuals, respectively. In the univariate analysis, subjects exiting the experimental building were 2.21 times more likely to report worsening of their DE symptoms (95% CI = 1.08 to 4.55; p < 0.001). When adjusting for confounders, including a history of eye allergy and time in building, subjects from the experimental building were 13.48 times more likely to report worsening of their DE symptoms (95 CI=3.08 - 59.06; p <0.001). The majority of individuals were <25 y (37%) and female (56%).
Our findings suggest that short-term exposure to indoor environmental conditions, especially air pollution and bioaerosols, have an acutely negative impact on DE symptoms. This warrants a multilateral approach to manage adverse health effects of air pollutants. Further research in larger sample populations with additional clinical evaluations is needed to confirm and expand our findings.
This is a 2020 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.
Air samples after 48h of incubation
Odds of worsening of DE symptoms with respect to selected covariates
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