A recent study found that a high prevalence of smartphone addiction was related to dry eye disease among undergraduate students at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong.
In the aforementioned study, some 102 students were recruited, and smartphone addiction was assessed through the abridged version of the Smartphone Addiction Scale, a 10-item questionnaire validated for the Asian population.
Further, dry eye parameters and symptoms were measured using the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), along with tear metrics such as noninvasive tear breakup time. Now, this may all seem a bit technical, but bear with us for a moment…because we all know how dearly we value our smartphones and how downright annoying dry eye can be.
According to the findings, smartphone addiction affected 57% of male students and 46% of female students at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine. What’s more, smartphone addiction was correlated with shorter sleep duration and, based on input from the Asia Dry Eye Society classification, some 37% of these young subjects (approximately 19 years of age) exhibited “clinically significant” dry eye disease.
Here’s another interesting aspect of the dry eye/smartphone debate:
While the OSDI score was associated with higher smartphone addiction, it did not correlate with self-reported smartphone use. What does that mean? A good number of these subjects may have very poor insight into what they are actually doing and how much time they spend on their phones.
Another way to look at it is like this: They may show signs of smartphone addiction, but they claim that they are using their phones only a small portion of the day.
We understand that smartphones make our lives easier, but they can also have an adverse effect on our vision without proper eye care. Beyond the study we showcased above, other analysis has been done on the overuse of smartphones and how it causes conditions such as digital eye strain, “text neck” and “cell phone elbow.” Some eye doctors claim they have observed smartphones causing something called “transient blindness,” a temporary condition triggered by looking at something very bright in the dark with just one eye.
This is just one example of how excessive smartphone use can affect our lives in negative ways. Please remember to take time to evaluate situations when you are not giving your vision health and physical safety the attention they deserve. Your eye doctor will be most proud of you.
For tips on protecting your eyes from digital eye strain and possible dry eye issues, see our article “Protecting Your Eyes From Computer Vision Syndrome in 10 Simple Steps.”