We sat down with Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee at SECO and talked digital eyestrain and blue light.
Digital eyestrain is a topic that optometrists should be having with every patient as we are the frontrunners in being able to provide solutions!
“It’s really important for [optometrists] to incorporate the symptoms into the patient history intake,” says Dr. Shen Lee. Since optometrists are not simply able to treat, but also prevent, digital eyestrain, this is particularly important for patients who are on their devices every day.
At Dr. Shen Lee’s practice, they not only ask patients about eye discomfort, but also digital habits—like whether or not they use their devices right before going to sleep. “They’re not surprised they’re having trouble falling asleep, but they are surprised that we actually have a solution!”
It’s been a huge practice builder: between digital eyestrain and dry eye treatment, Dr. Shen Lee’s practice stands out in her community. They’ve been in existence for twenty years, and Dr. Shen Lee makes sure to be active in the community and online.
Dr. Shen Lee also writes quarterly column for Eyecare Business called Ocular Aesthetics, focusing on what optometrists can do in their practices to support their patients’ aesthetic needs. “It’s really important to focus on the benefits,” she says. The products themselves don’t matter to patients—it’s how it will benefit them that matters!
“Sleep hygiene” is a popular buzzword in blue light management, but as Dr. Shen Lee points out, many patients won’t follow the standard recommendation to abstain from device use for two hours before they go to sleep. So it falls to optometrists to mitigate the effect that blue light will have on patients.
This is why Dr. Shen Lee incorporates questions about lifestyle and issues like digital eyestrain into her exam template. By discussing specific benefits—to sleep, to energy levels, to stress—optometrists can explain how prescriptions and lens options will impact patients’ quality of life in material ways. This can include everything from metabolism shifts to mood boosts, and patients will see the benefits!
“Many of us chose optometry as a profession because we want to be doctors, we want to be the problem-solvers, and most of us are natural problem solvers,” says Dr. Shen Lee. “We are giving them solutions to literally help them have a much better quality of life. It’s about the overall wellness care.” Communicating that to your patients is absolutely key to solving their problems.