Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Risk of Dry Eye Disease and Corneal Surface Damage: A Population-Based Cohort Study

Ching Han Tseng, Ying Hsuan Tai, Chien Tai Hong, Ying Xiu Dai, Tzeng Ji Chen, Yih Giun Cherng, Shih Chung Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) potentially involves multiple parts of the ocular system, including the lacrimal glands and the cornea. The present study sought to assess the risk of aqueous-deficient dry eye disease (DED) and corneal surface damage in patients with SLE. We conducted a population-based cohort study using Taiwan’s National Health Insurance research database to compare the risks of DED and corneal surface damage between subjects with and without SLE. Proportional hazard regression analyses were used to calculate the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for the study outcomes. The propensity score matching procedure generated 5083 matched pairs with 78,817 person-years of follow-up for analyses. The incidence of DED was 31.90 and 7.66 per 1000 person-years in patients with and without SLE, respectively. After adjusting for covariates, SLE was significantly associated with DED (aHR: 3.30, 95% CI: 2.88–3.78, p < 0.0001) and secondary Sjögren’s syndrome (aHR: 9.03, 95% CI: 6.86–11.88, p < 0.0001). Subgroup analyses demonstrated that the increased risk of DED was augmented among patients with age < 65 years and female sex. In addition, patients with SLE had a higher risk of corneal surface damage (aHR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.35–2.41, p < 0.0001) compared to control subjects, including recurrent corneal erosion (aHR: 2.98, 95% CI: 1.63–5.46, p = 0.0004) and corneal scar (aHR: 2.23, 95% CI: 1.08–4.61, p = 0.0302). In this 12-year nationwide cohort study, we found that SLE was associated with increased risks of DED and corneal surface damage. Regular ophthalmology surveillance should be considered to prevent sight-threatening sequelae among patients with SLE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3776
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • complication
  • corneal erosion
  • keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  • ocular manifestation
  • peripheral ulcerative keratitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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