Prevalence Study of the Risk for Digital Eye Strain Symptoms Among University Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic
F. Mohd Rafi1, M. Z. Misrat2, N. Mohd Shaffiar3, M. Hamid4
Department of Manufacturing and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, International Islamic University Malaysia, Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia1, 2, 3, 4
Abstract: Since the end of 2019, COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world, affecting a wide range of human activities. The adoption of online classes as the medium for teaching and learning is one facet of routine that has affected the university where students will need to spend more time using electronic devices in order to adapt to the new norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prolonged use of electronic devices has been linked to an increase of risk for digital eye strain (DES) syndromes. Currently, no prevalence study of the risk for DES symptoms among university students in Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic has been conducted. Thus, this study is required in order to determine the prevalence of the risk of DES symptoms when the COVID-19 pandemic is taken into account. The objectives of this study are: (i) to determine the frequency of DES symptoms among the university student during the COVID-19 pandemic by using the Computer Vision Syndrome Questionnaire (CVS-Q); (ii) to determine the correlation between the total duration of digital usage per day during COVID-19 pandemic and the frequency of experiencing DES symptoms; (iii) to determine the correlation between the credit hours registered and the frequency of experiencing DES symptoms; (iv) to determine the correlation between the use of glasses, contact lens or not (normal vision) and the intensity of DES symptoms. The study included 98 IIUM undergraduate Engineering students [male, n=66; female, n=32] ranging in age from 20 to 27 years old [mean = 22.58; SD = 1.20]. The apparatus used in the study was Computer Vision Syndrome Questionnaire (CVS-Q). Respondents were asked to report the frequency of DES symptoms that they experienced. Moreover, they were also asked to report the intensity of the symptoms. The results reveal that: (i) the average number of DES symptoms was 7.83 [SD = 4.30]; (ii) the average score of the level of the intensity was 1.90 [SD = 0.18]; (iii) the most affected symptoms are headache, an increased sensitivity to light and heavy eyelids; (iv) there is a positive correlation between the total duration of digital usage per day during COVID-19 pandemic and the frequency of experiencing DES symptoms, r (98) = 0.113; p < 0.05; (v) there is no correlation between the credit hours registered and the frequency of experiencing DES symptoms; and (vi) there is no correlation between the use of glasses, contact lenses or not (normal vision) and the intensity of DES symptoms. This study shows that at least one of the DES symptoms would be experienced by the students. In general, the study adds to the body of knowledge about the prevalence of DES syndromes among university students in Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the implementation of online classes. The study largely contributes to the third Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is ‘good health and well-being.’ This is owing to the discovery that the prevalence of health and well-being among the student population puts them at risk for DES syndromes, particularly as a result of the large engagement with gadgets due to the online classes.