The Journal of Bucharest College of Physicians and the Romanian Academy of Medical Sciences

Prevalence of Dry Eye Disease in Undergraduate Medical Students and its Association with Online Overexposure Due to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)


Objectives: To understand the prevalence of dry eye disease (DED) in undergraduate medical students and assess its association with online overexposure due to COVID-19. Materials and methods: The study was carried out with 200 medical undergraduate students aged 18-25 years at North Indian Medical College during the third and fourth weeks of September, 2021 & enquired regarding the online exposure pattern, type of device used and presence of eight dry eye symptoms (foreign body sensation, vision difficulties, discharge, itching, ocular pain, redness, photophobia, watering) followed by Schirmer’s strips examination. Cut off for dry eye disease was <10 mm. Data was analyzed using SPSS 21.0 package & Chi-square test for comparisons. Results: Mean age was 21.00±1.93 years. Majority were females (54.5%). Prevalence of dry eye symptoms was 85.5%. Vision difficulties (54.0%), itching (56.0%), watering (51.5%) were the most common symptoms. Majority (64.0%) had >3 symptoms. Use of mobile device, >4 hours of online exposure for other than study purposes and >1.5 increase in online exposure after COVID-19 were associated with presence of >3 dry eye symptoms. On Schirmer’s test, prevalence of dry eye disease was 12.0%. Conclusion: Longer duration of online exposure and increase in online activities as a result of COVID-19 was associated with an increased risk of dry eye disease and its prevalence in undergraduate medical students.