Increased Digital Device Use During Pandemic Worsened Ocular, Visual Symptoms in Adults

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Spending less than an hour per day outdoors exacerbated symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome.

An increase in the use of electronic devices during the COVID-19 lockdown is associated with computer vision syndrome-related eye problems, according to findings published in Optometry & Vision Science.

Researchers conducted a study to evaluate ocular symptoms that resulted from increased use of electronic devices, along with less time spent outdoors, during a mandatory COVID-19 lockdown in Spain. The study included 730 participants between the ages of 18 and 73 years. Participants filled out a questionnaire after 6 to 8 weeks of lockdown, that consisted of 3 sections including general demographics, usage habits of electronic devices during lockdown, and computer vision syndrome-related ocular and visual symptoms associated with their use and ergonomic practices.

The study found daily duration of electronic device use increased by an average of 3.1±2.2 hours during lockdown, with the largest increase seen in computer use. The most frequent symptoms reported included headache (36.7%), dry eye (31.1%), irritation (24.1%), blurred vision (21.2%), and ocular pain (14.9%). A significant relationship was observed between computer vision syndrome-related symptoms and participants between the ages of 18 and 30 years, while fewer symptoms were reported in those older than 45 years (P <.001). Additionally, more symptoms were reported in those who worked or studied remotely (P <.001), spent more than 10 hours per day using electronic devices (P =.05), or spent less than 1 hour per day outdoors.

“The data show that those participants who had a higher use of electronic devices showed a higher prevalence of referred visual eye symptoms (P =.05),” according to investigators. While the percentage of participants reporting symptoms was similar to those of office workers polled before the COVID-19 lockdowns, the participants did report a worsening of their symptoms. 

Study limitations include possible confounding due to the survey’s internet-based  format, the lack of comparative information before the lockdown for participants, and the survey’s absence of severity scales for each symptom.


Galindo-Romero C, Ruiz-Porras A, García-Ayuso D, Di Pierdomenico J, Sobrado-Calvo P, Valiente-Soriano FJ. Computer vision syndrome in the Spanish population during the COVID-19 lockdown. Optom Vis Sci. 2021;98(11):1255-1262. doi:10.1097/OPX.0000000000001794