Impact of online classes on eye health of children and young adults in the setting of COVID-19 pandemic: A hospital-based survey
R Neena1, M Gayathri2, Nimmy Prakash3, Giridhar Anantharaman4
1 Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology, Strabismus & Neuro-Ophthalmology, Giridhar Eye Institute, Kadavanthara, Kochi, Kerala, India
2 Intern in Optometry, Giridhar Eye Institute, Kadavanthara, Kochi, Kerala, India
3 Biostatistician, Giridhar Eye Institute, Kadavanthara, Kochi, Kerala, India
4 Medical Director, Giridhar Eye Institute, Kadavanthara, Kochi, Kerala, India
Giridhar Eye Institute, Kadavanthara, Kochi - 682 020, Kerala
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
BACKGROUND: To analyze the impact of online classes on eye health of children and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: An observational study with a written questionnaire and comprehensive ophthalmic evaluation at a tertiary eye care center in South India, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESULTS: Of the 496 patients, most were 5–10 years old, attending online classes 1–2 h/day with majority (84.7%) having <4 h of classes. Electronic gadget use after classes was seen in 95.6% participants and 28.6% admitted to using it for more than 2 h/day. Digital eye strain (DES) was seen in 50.8% of patients of which headache or eye ache were the most common symptom (30.8%). Duration of online class was found to be the single most independent factor associated with the development of eye complaints (P = 0.001). Duration of class hours (P = 0.007) and light setting (P = 0.008) was found to be independent determinants of developing DES.
CONCLUSIONS: Increased screen time, inadequate light setting, and excessive application of near vision can produce undesirable effects including the development of DES, worsening or development of new refractive errors and squint.