Dry Eye and Visual Display Terminal Related Symptoms among University Students during COVID

Purpose: To evaluate dry eye (DE) and subjective visual display terminal (VDT)-related symptoms in university students who moved their classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of students who were taking online classes. In May 2020, the participants completed a Dry Eye Questionnaire (DEQ-5) and a self-report survey, which included demographics, medical history, information on the use of VDT and presence of VDT-related symptoms. Participants were classified as having mild/moderate (7-12) or severe (>12) DE symptoms based on their DEQ-5 score. The associations between severe DE symptoms and relevant factors were also evaluated.

Results: The data of 1450 eligible students were analyzed. The mean age of the participants was 21.1 (2.7) years. 42.8% of the participants had mild/moderate DE symptoms, whereas 34.7% had severe symptoms. Associated factors for severe DE were female sex (OR = 2.57, CI [1.97-3.35]), allergic disease (OR = 1.63, CI [1.24-2.13]), previous dry eye diagnosis (OR = 13.49, CI [7.10-25.63]), keratoconus (OR = 5.56, CI [1.27-24.44], contact lens use (OR = 1.77, CI [1.24-2.53]) and duration of VDT use (OR = 1.02, CI [1.01-1.05]). Prior to the pandemic, the mean reported duration of VDT use was 9.8 (4.7) hours; this increased to 15.9 (5.8) hours during the online classes (p < .001). 80.6% of the participants reported a global increase in VDT-related symptoms.

Conclusion: Students taking online classes had a high frequency of dry eye symptoms. They also reported a significant increase in visual display terminal related symptoms. Dry eye should be considered as an emerging health problem among the young population, which is probably related to the recent changes in lifestyle.

Cartes C, Segovia C, Salinas-Toro D, Goya C, Alonso MJ, Lopez-Solis R, Zapata C, Cabezas M, Yañez P, Flores-Rodriguez P, Lopez D, Matus G, Traipe L. Dry Eye and Visual Display Terminal-Related Symptoms among University Students during the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic. Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2021 Jul 12:1-7.