The effect of online education during the pandemic on ocular surface symptoms
Keywords:COVID-19, Online education, Tear break-up time, Schirmer, OSDI
Background/Aim: During the pandemic, eye symptoms increased. This study aimed to investigate the effects of online education on ocular surface symptoms, which was a part of the distance learning model during the COVID-19 pandemic, to be able to prevent the formation of irreversible damage. Methods: This cohort study included 315 students who were undertaking online education and presented at the Ophthalmology Department of a university hospital. The sociodemographic data, Schirmer test results, tear break-up time (TBUT) and Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) scores of the students were noted. The data were analyzed using SPSS v. 22.0 software and a value of P<0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: Evaluation was made of 315 students with a mean age of 14.48 (5.86) years (range: 6-29 years). Of these, 159 were studying at a high school or university, and 267 had been participating in online education for ≥6 hours per week. New symptoms had developed in the eyes of 213. The Schirmer test results were 8.74 (3.76) mm in the right eye and 8.90 (3.86) mm in the left eye. TBUT was 9.95(3.60) seconds in the right eye and 10.15 (3.58) seconds in the left. The mean OSDI score was 26.39 (11.85). OSDI was significantly negatively correlated with the Schirmer results and TBUT (r= -0.883, P<0.05, r= -0.793, P<0.05, respectively), while Schirmer and TBUT were positively correlated (r=0.871, P<0.05). Conclusion: With the continuation of education online during the COVID-19 pandemic, televisions, computers, and tablets were commonly used. This increased screen time led to the development of new symptoms causing significant changes in the OSDI, TBUT, and Schirmer tests.
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