Smartphone Vision Syndrome Associated
with Prolonged Use of Digital Screen for
Attending Online Classes during COVID-19
Pandemic among Medical Students:
A Cross-sectional Study
Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Govt Medical College Sailana
Road, Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Introduction: Smartphone vision disorder is a complex of eye and vision related problems associated with close work during use of digital screen. It is one of the rising wellbeing concerns identified with innovation (phones and tablets) because of constant utilisation of Smartphones among medical undergraduates particularly during the last five months due to COVID-19 pandemic for attending online classes.
Aim: To investigate the impact of online classes on development of Digital Vision Syndrome (DVS) among undergraduate medical students.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 280 undergraduate medical students from 1st and 2nd professional MBBS course attending online classes regularly from the last five months. The authors evaluated the studentâ€™s perception based on the symptoms experienced in the last five months through a pre-tested questionnaire related to DVS which are caused due to two mechanisms: (i) accommodative mechanism; (ii) ocular surface mechanism by using 5-point Likert scale. The association between development of DVS symptoms and risk factors like distance of eyes from the screen, refractive errors, duration of exposure and size of screen was analysed by factor analysis and ANOVA through EpiInfoTM for windows version 7.2.4.
Results: In the present study, 78.2% of students were using smartphones and 21.8% were using large screen for reading and attending online classes during the lockdown period. It was observed that the descriptive statistics elaborates the overall mean of approximately score 3 in all 280 students on Likert scale. In regard to distance at which digital screen was kept, students who kept less distance (> arm and forearm length) are at higher risk of DVS development (p<0.001). In case of refractive error, the negative correlation shows that impact with spectacles is less compared to emmetropic eye (p<0.01 and p<0.001). About 75% of the total students score range between occasionally to always which indicates that the majority of the students got DVS. Authors assess the impact of duration of digital screen used and revealed that accommodative and ocular mechanisms responsible for development of DVS were significantly affected as duration of exposure to digital screen increases (p<0.001). We analysed the impact of digital screen size on DVS symptoms and found that participants using small screen are at higher risk (p<0.001) for development of smartphone vision syndrome as compared to large screen digital devices.
Conclusion: The students attending online classes are more prone to development of smartphone vision syndrome. This study had shown association between DVS and the risk factors associated with it: duration of exposure, distance from the screen and size of screen used.