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Ocular surface tumors: Rare but deadly


Investigators find the prevalence of ocular surface tumors is greater in the North Central region of the United States.

Ocular surface tumors are rare but serious events, and can be deadly for patients. (Image courtesy of Andrea Leonardi, MD)

Ocular surface tumors are rare but serious events, and can be deadly for patients. (Image courtesy of Andrea Leonardi, MD)

Reviewed by Nathan Eli Hall, MS, BS

An epidemiologic analysis of malignant ocular surface tumors, which are rare but serious events, found significant differences in geographic prevalence rates in the US, with more White men and smokers affected, according to Nathan Hall, MS, BS, and colleagues from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Department of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Considering the seriousness of these tumors of the conjunctiva and/or cornea, patient morbidity and mortality can be affected, Hall said. He also noted the importance of identifying the associated risk factors, such as ultraviolet light exposure in various regions, gender, and older age. 

Nathan Hall, MS, BS

Nathan Hall, MS, BS

This analysis, which used data from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Intelligent Research in Sight (IRIS) Registry, included more than 15,000 patients who had been diagnosed with a malignant ocular surface tumor of the conjunctiva/cornea between 2013 and 2019.

The investigators found that prevalence rates of ocular surface tumors differed across all geographic areas, with the highest prevalence in the North Central region (0.0032 cases/100,000) and lowest in the West region (0.0014 cases/100,000), Hall reported.

White men and smokers were most highly affected and non-White women were the least affected (P < .0001 for all comparisons). Smoking seems to have an impact on the prevalence, as the investigators found a significantly higher proportion of current smokers within those patients with an ocular surface tumor than in the general IRIS Registry patient pool.

The investigators also highlighted that exposure to ultraviolet light and latitude-related differences have been reported previously as risk factors for ocular surface tumors in other studies, and including similar types of data in the IRIS Registry should be another path of investigation.

“Our results suggested a significantly higher prevalence of ocular surface tumors in White [men] and smokers [as well as] differences between geographic area of the US,” Hall said.

Nathan Eli Hall, MS, BS

E: NEHALL@mgh.harvard.edu

Hall has no nancial disclosures related to this content.

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