Rising usage of digital devices for online education among students has led to the increasing prevalence of refractive error among school and college students, as per a survey conducted by New Panvel-based R J Sankara Eye Hospital.
Out of the 247 students screened in the hospital’s OPD (outdoor patient department), 79 students were detected for refractive error, which was 32 percent compared to the normal trend of 10-15 percent, according to doctors at the New Panvel based hospital.
Refractive error leads to vision becoming blurry and hazy on an individual’s eyes and common symptoms includes headache and can further lead to digital eye strain (DES)
As per another study recently published in Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, out of the 217 students who participated in the survey, 109 students were found to be suffering from DES of which 26 percent were mild 13 percent were moderate and 11 percent were of severe grade with most common symptoms being itching and headaches.
The average time spent using electronic devices had increased to 5 hours a day for 36 percent of students due to online teaching or e-learning introduced during the pandemic after schools were shut.
The risk of DES is seen rising significantly for those students spending 4-5 hours per day on digital devices, as per several other studies, said Dr. Ankita, Paediatric Ophthalmologist at RJ Sankara Eye Hospital, which is one of the 12 super speciality eye hospitals managed across nine Indian states by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Medical Trust – a social enterprise.
If detected early, vision therapy can help in preventing progression of symptoms of digital eye strain.
“Vision therapy includes a series of in-office and home-based exercises administered over a period of weeks or months with the help of special glasses, filters, prisms and computer assisted vision programmes that improve eye focusing, coordination and tracking,” Dr. Ankita said.