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

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Tired overworked asian male feeling eyes strain after using computer while working at home
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.

Reference


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