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Laura Norris, Zane Martindale, Tuong-Vi Mai-Tran, Alice Chuang, Richard Yee; The Severity of Dry Eye with Computer Usage and Serum Lipid Levels. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):4349.
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To determine the correlation of dry eye symptoms to computer usage and serum lipid levels in a medical student population.
First and second year medical students at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston were surveyed prior to the start of the school year. After one year, the first year cohort was asked to complete the same survey as follow-up. The surveys included an Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) assessing the severity of dry eye symptoms and a supplemental questionnaire assessing ocular surface history and computer hours. The cohort had the opportunity to complete a standard fasting serum lipid panel consisting of levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL, and VLDL. Statistical significance is defined as p<0.05.
The second year class reported significantly greater daily computer hours compared to the first year class (p < 0.0001). In addition, the second year students indicated significantly worse dry eye symptoms based on the total OSDI score, the ocular symptom subset, and the visual function subset (all p<0.05). On follow-up survey of the first year class, similar trends were reinforced in that after the first year of school, students indicated significantly worse dry eye symptoms and reported significantly greater computer hours. By stepwise regression, the OSDI score did not correlate significantly to more computer hours; however, the trend was positive. Furthermore, the second year students with severe dry eye symptoms had significantly higher triglyceride levels and VLDL levels (both p<0.05) than students with normal or moderate dry eye symptoms.
Since these results were significant in a young population studied over just one year, further study over a longer time interval may be instrumental in understanding the development of dry eyes as related to computer use and serum lipid levels. Our study indicates it may be beneficial to examine computer users of any age for dry eye disease with the OSDI and ocular surface examination, and obtain a fasting serum lipid panel in those with severe dry eye symptoms.
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