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Dry eye related to smartphone addiction in university students


<Published in Ocular Surgery News, October 2018>

VIENNA — A high prevalence of smartphone addiction and related dry eye disease was found among undergraduate students at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong.

“Interestingly, the score of smartphone addiction was completely not correlated with the self-reported time of smartphone use,” Kendrick Shih, MD, said at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons meeting.

In a study, 102 students were recruited, and smartphone addiction was assessed through the short version of the Smartphone Addiction Scale, a 10-items questionnaire validated for the Asian population. Dry eye parameters and symptoms were measured using the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) and tear metrics such as noninvasive tear breakup time.

“We also looked at potential confounders, such as self-reported sleep duration and self-reported smartphone use in terms of hours,” Shih said.

A high prevalence of smartphone addiction was found, affecting 57% of male students and 46% of female students. Smartphone addiction was correlated with shorter sleep duration. According to the Asia Dry Eye Society classification, 37% of these young subjects, about 19 years of age, had clinically significant dry eye disease.

“OSDI score was associated with higher smartphone addiction but completely non-correlated with self-reported smartphone use. This means that a lot of these subjects may have very poor insight into what they are actually doing and how much time they spend on their phones. They may be addicted, but they say that they are using the phone 2 to 3 hours a day,” Shih said.

Apps are now available to quantify the daily time of smartphone use and might help in future studies. – by Michela Cimberle


Shih K, et al. Prevalence and severity of smartphone addiction and dry eye disease in university students. Presented at: European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons meeting; Sept. 22-26, 2018; Vienna.

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