Smartphone addiction ups dry-eye risk in children

Children who spend a lot of time on their smartphones and computer devices may be at high risk of developing dry eye disease, scientists have warned.

Researchers from Chung Ang University Hospital in South Korea showed that increased video display terminal (VDT) use such as smartphones or computers in children was found to be associated with the occurrence of ocular surface symptoms.

“We enrolled 916 children and performed an ocular exam that included slit lamp exam and tear break-up time.

A questionnaire administered to children and their families consisted of VDT use, outdoor activity, learning and modified ocular surface disease index (OSDI) score,” the researchers said.

The participants were divided into two groups -630 children from urban areas and 286 from rural. A total of 8.3% of children in the urban group were diagnosed with dry eye disease (DED) compared to 2.8% in the rural group.

The rate of smartphone use was 61.3% in the urban group and 51% in the rural group, researchers said.

Smartphone use in children was strongly associated with paediatric DED, however, outdoor activity appeared to be protective against paediatric DED, they said. Older students in urban areas had DED risk factors and a short duration of outdoor activity.