Association between Three Heavy Metals and Dry Eye Disease in Korean Adults: Results of the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Purpose: To investigate the associations between blood heavy metal concentrations and dry eye disease using a Korean population-based survey.
Methods: This study included 23,376 participants >40 years of age who participated in the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2010 to 2012. Blood concentrations of lead, cadmium, and mercury were measured in all participants. The associations between blood heavy metal concentrations and dry eye disease were assessed using multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Results: After adjusting for potential confounders, including age, sex, lifestyle behaviors and sociodemographic factors, the analyses revealed an increased odds ratio (OR) for dry eye disease with higher blood mercury concentrations (tertile 2: OR, 1.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.91 to 1.64; tertile 3: OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.89; p = 0.039). The prevalence of dry eye disease was not associated with blood lead (tertile 2: OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.51; tertile 3: OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.59 to 1.16; p = 0.283) or cadmium (tertile 2: OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.77 to 1.44; tertile 3: OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 0.84 to 1.58; p = 0.389) concentrations. There were no significant associations between any of the three heavy metals and dry eye disease in males after adjusting for potential confounding factors, but blood mercury concentrations in females were associated with dry eye disease (tertile 2: OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.83 to 1.69; tertile 3: OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.12 to 2.24; p = 0.009).
Conclusions: Mercury concentrations in blood were associated with dry eye disease. Our results suggested that controlling environmental exposure to mercury may be necessary to reduce the incidence of dry eye disease.