We sat down with Dr. Jennifer Lyerly, co-founder of Defocus Media, on the best approach to diagnosing digital eye strain in younger patients.
One of the challenges with this condition is that there isn’t a clinical consensus on what digital eye strain is, or how to diagnose it, so Dr. Lyerly shared her advice on how to determine when a patient’s use of technology is detrimentally affecting their eyesight.
First, talk to your patients about their lifestyle and use of digital devices. It’s important not to interrupt or rush to conclusions too quickly, but to listen to your patients and develop trust and a good rapport. Pay close attention to your patients’ symptoms as well as their case histories.
While a lot of doctors leave cover tests to their technicians, Dr. Lyerly points out that these tests can be tricky and doctors should take the time to do their own cover tests. If they mention symptoms of eye strain, such as headaches, or if one comes up in their case history, it could be a sign of convergence and you’ll have to examine the patient further.
Another thing doctors should do is test the patient’s near vision, regardless of their age. Dr. Lyerly points out that younger patients will often test well on long-distance vision, leading some doctors to forget to check their near vision as well.
However, it’s important to check this as it will give you information on their focusing systems, and any vision problems arising from using technology. As Dr. Lyerly points out, for patients’ whose jobs and lifestyles involve staring at screens, “their day isn’t twenty feet away.”