Background: Numerous studies have confirmed the association of ambient temperature and air pollution with a higher risk of morbidities, yet few have addressed their effect on the ocular system. The purpose of this study was to assess the association between temperature, air pollution, and emergency room visits for conjunctivitis.
Methods: In this case-crossover study, the records of all emergency room visits to Soroka University Medical Center (SUMC) from 2009 to 2014 were reviewed for patients with conjunctivitis. Daily exposure to fine and coarse particulate matter and temperature were determined by a hybrid model involving satellite sensors.
Results: 6001 patients were diagnosed with conjunctivitis in the SUMC emergency room. We discovered a positive association between temperature increments and incidence of conjunctivitis. The strongest effect was found during summer and autumn, with an immediate (lag0) incidence increase of 8.1% for each 1 °C increase in temperature (OR 1.088 95%CI 1.046;1.132) between 24 and 28 °C in the summer and 7.2% for each 1 °C increase in temperature (OR 1.072 95%CI 1.036;1.108) between 13 and 23 °C in the autumn. There was no statistically significant association between fine and coarse particulate matter and conjunctivitis incidence.
Conclusion: Temperature increases during summer and autumn are significantly associated with an increased risk of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is not associated with non-anthropogenic air pollution. These findings may help community clinics and hospital emergency rooms better predict conjunctivitis cases and will hopefully lead to improved prevention efforts that will lower the financial burden on both the individual and the public.