Digital Eye Strain Risk Factors Identified

young woman working at home( headache)
young woman working at home
Investigators identify dry eye disease risk factors observed in individuals who view digital screens for extended periods of time.

A large number of individuals attending college have increased dry eye symptomatology due to lifestyle and health-related factors, according to a study published in Eye & Contact Lens. Many of these symptoms result from digital eye strain (DES) caused by prolonged computer use. 

Researchers conducted an anonymous online survey of 851 students (mean age, 21.7±3.7 years, 544 women). The survey consisted of 4 validated questionnaires related to DES and dry eye disease (DED) including the Computer Vision Syndrome Questionnaire (CVS-Q), Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), 5-item Dry Eye Questionnaire (DEQ-5), and 8-item contact lens (CL) Dry Eye Questionnaire (CLDEQ-8). 

A total of 628 participants (73.8%) were categorized as having DES (CVS-Q <6) and 222 (26.2%) did not have DES (CVS-Q ≥6). 

Compared with individuals who did not have DES, participants with DES slept less hours (P =.025), spent more time indoors with air conditioning (P =.002), consumed more caffeinated beverages (P <.011), used the computer for longer periods (P <.010), reported worse health quality (P =.001), reported more stress (P <.001), and had a significantly higher CVS-Q, OSDI, DEQ-5, and CLDEQ-8 scores (P <.001 for all questionnaires). 

Female sex was associated with an increased risk of DES (OR, 2.954; 95% CI, 2.139-4.080; P <.001). A higher proportion of participants with DES took oral contraceptive therapy (P <.001), antihistamines (P =.011), anxiolytics (P =.019), and antidepressants (P =.037).

Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that stress (P =.035), contact lens wear (P =.011), hours of computer use per day (P =.010), migraine headaches (P =.013), and a higher OSDI (P <.001) and DEQ-5 score (P <.001) were independently associated with DES. 

“Considering the strong association between DES and dry eye, special attention should be paid to screen users with dry eye,” according to the researchers. “Likewise, clinicians should acknowledge the relevance of triaging questions, systemic comorbidities, and DED risk factors when dealing with patients who view digital screens for extended periods.” 

Study limitations include a single center design, possible recall bias due to self reporting, and failure to recruit through advertisement.


Talens-Estarelles C, García-Marqués JV, Cerviño A, García-Lázaro S. Dry eye-related risk factors for digital eye strain.Eye Contact Lens. Published online July 8, 2022. doi:10.1097/ICL.0000000000000923