Reach for Excellence

Ask and Help: How Much Time Are Patients on Digital Devices?

Jan. 18, 2017

Most of your patients spend significant time on digital devices, findings from a newly released survey from The Vision Council suggest. According to the report, 87 percent of adults in the U.S. use digital devices more than two hours per day, and over 52 percent regularly use two digital devices simultaneously. Some 76.5 percent of parents indicate that their children receive more than two hours of screen time per day, and 55.6 percent say their children experience symptoms of digital eye strain after two hours of screen time.

How much time we spend in near vision tasks is an important question for everything from potential binocular vision issues to potential contact lens issues. The amount of time spent on screens at near can be as high a 9+ hours per day. As clinicians, we need to be aware of this shift in near work and explore it in our examinations. On the discovery side of the equation, our options are to …

1)    Ask near-related questions in our patient history such as:
a.    How much total time per day do you spend looking at screens?
b.    Do your eyes ever get tired when looking at near?
c.    Do you get headaches after spending prolonged time looking at near?

2)    Using clinical tools to explore near performance such as:
a.    Cover test at near
b.    NRA/PRA testing
c.    Binocular crossed cylinder testing
d.    Near point retinoscopy

On the treatment side of the equation, our options include:
1)    For our patients wearing contact lenses, we need to make sure that we are training them on techniques such as 20/20 – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet, or more, in distance. Actually, this is a good idea for all patients.

2)    Some patients will benefit from “comfort” spectacle lenses at near. Make sure you are up-to-date with the lens offerings in this category from the lens manufacturers.

3)    Some patients need a more aggressive approach, such as a specific prescription for near, or even a combination of vision therapy and lenses for near.

Take this week to explore how you are addressing the increased near work being done by your patients in your patient history, your testing and your treatment options. Make whatever changes are necessary to provide the best vision care possible to every patient.

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