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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 284-290

Digital eye strain among undergraduate medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional survey

Department of Ophthalmology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ferzana Mohammed
Department of Ophthalmology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode - 673 008, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/kjo.kjo_168_20

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Background and Objective of the Study: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the use of online platforms for education. This may lead to digital eye strain (DES) in the student community. The objective of this study was to assess the pattern of digital device use, the prevalence of DES symptoms and assess the awareness of DES among undergraduate medical students. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study and was conducted among undergraduate medical students of a medical college in Kerala using a structured, self-administered online questionnaire. Results: Two-hundred and twenty-seven students responded to this questionnaire. Of these respondents, 90.3% (205 students) reported experiencing the ocular and extra-ocular symptoms of DES. Neck pain, headache, and watering of eyes were the most frequent symptoms. Continuous use of devices without breaks, the predominant activity on devices, the presence of refractive errors, and inappropriate control of glare on digital devices had a statistically significant association with DES. Although 79.4% of students were aware that using digital devices can cause eye strain, <20% were aware of the ideal distance for viewing digital screens and the 20-20-20 rule of taking breaks in-between screen time. Conclusion: Undergraduate medical students reported a high prevalence of DES during the COVID-19 college shutdown. Lack of timely breaks and inappropriate control of glare from monitors were associated with DES symptoms. Only a few students were aware of the ergonomic measures to be adopted during device use. Educating undergraduate medical students about DES is essential to curb this rising problem.

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