Optometry Podcast: Employees and Eyecare Concerns

This Podcast is in Partnership with Transitions

If you’ve been noticing a big uptick in the discomfort and amount of help your patients need over the past year, you are not alone! The impacts of COVID-19 are continuing to be felt in the exam room for eyecare providers around the country as our patients come in with more concerns and symptoms from prolonged screen use. Our guest on this episode is Jonathan Ormsby, Senior Key Account Manager for Transitions Optical, and he’s breaking down the study data that supports just how much our patients are needing help in relieving their daily eye strain and ocular discomfort!

The Transitions Optical Workplace Wellness Survey conducted in 2021 interviewed 1,300 US adults and the findings show significant increases in digital eye strain and discomfort. This annual survey of employees whose employers offer vision benefits has been conducted for over a decade, and helps identify key trends in eye health and perception of premium eyewear options. This year’s annual Transitions Workplace Wellness Survey was conducted online among U.S. adults, ages 18 and up, employed full-time or part-time, and whose employers offer vision benefits. This year, participants were asked questions to identify the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on employees’ eye health and overall eye care, and to learn how the pandemic may have shaped their perspectives on the importance of annual eye exams, the use of eyewear that helps protect against harmful blue light and enrolling in vision benefits plans.

This year’s survey revealed that, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rising number of employees report looking toward eyewear as a potential measure to prevent digital eyestrain and harmful blue light filtration. The increased interest in eyewear that helps to protect may be in part because employees also reported spending more time in front of their work computer screens since the pandemic began.  Specifically, the survey found that over half of employees spend more time in front of their work computer screens now than before the COVID-19 pandemic, with one in five employees reporting that they spend at least three more hours in front of their screen. Additionally, among those employees with increased screen time, 85% say they experience digital eyestrain frequently. Other takeaways from the survey include:

  • almost six in 10 employees report experiencing more eye fatigue symptoms due to increased screen time since the COVID-19 pandemic began
  • The top symptoms reported by employees include headaches and dry eye
  • Light sensitivity complaints have increased with increased screen time
  • The survey ultimately revealed that in the next 12 months, employees intend to look more towards eyewear to help alleviate their digital eyestrain symptoms.

Specifically, one in three employees says he or she will seek information on blue light eyeglasses, update a prescription or buy new eyeglasses. In comparison, only 24% of employees say they would use a blue light screen filter, and 22% say they would change their computer monitor.

While patients are increasingly seeking the help of eyecare providers, Dr. Lyerly emphasizes that we have a limited opportunity in the exam to explain the important elements of any glasses that were prescribed that would address the patient’s specific complaints. If the patient just takes a copy of their prescription numbers, and gets eyewear filled online, the important protective elements that you had recommended would be totally absent from the eyewear they just purchased outside of your office, and they would not have seen any value or relief from your “prescription.” 

“We have to educate our patients,” Dr. Glover states during the episode. “Patients come to my exam room, and they are asking about blue light protection. They know about this. It’s very important to make sure you are really prescribing from the chair.” He underlines that it’s important to give a holistic overview of each technological element of the glasses you prescribed and how that ties to a functional solution.

As a result of increased screen time, employees share a growing concern about their eye health. Most notably, the survey found that nearly half of employees are more concerned now about digital eyestrain overall and light sensitivity, than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Additionally, the survey revealed over a quarter of employees are more concerned about the effects of blue light exposure. These findings emphasize the importance of eyewear when it comes to advising patients about their eye health.

According to this year’s survey results, the COVID-19 pandemic not only affected employee eye health, but the pandemic and its restrictions also impacted eye care professionals. The survey found that as a result of the pandemic, over a quarter of employees had to delay their annual eye exams and delay purchasing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Additionally, 17% of employees used remote options for vision care, like telehealth.

At the time of recording this podcast, the Center for Disease Control is reporting that 47.5% of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated, and employees may feel a lot safer about in-person contact and begin to flood back into eye care professionals’ practices. This can be a perfect opportunity for eyecare professionals to recommend to them premium lens products like Transitions® lenses that can help with their light sensitivity, while blocking 100% of UVA and UVB and helping to protect from harmful blue light1

When will things return to “normal”? Increased screen time may be here to stay. When asked about their employers’ plans for heading back to the office after the pandemic, almost half of employees say they will continue to work at home at least part-time, compared to only 41% going back to the office full-time. In addition to this year’s Workplace Wellness survey, Transitions Optical also conducted a Global Consumer Behavior survey in 2020, which revealed 70% of people indicated that protecting their eyes and their eye health is more important to them now than pre-pandemic. With more employees looking toward eyewear and harmful blue light filtration options, ensuring that a workplace offers comprehensive vision benefits plans that cover premium eyewear options is more essential than ever for businesses.

Want to learn more and access material to help educate your patients about the eyewear technology available to them at your office? Eyecare professionals can access complimentary resources at TransitionsPRO.com/Bluelight  This webpage is dedicated to helping eyecare professionals explain and emphasize the importance and benefits of premium lens options, like Transitions® brand lenses, to their patients.

Change Agent opinions and remarks are their own. Change Agents may receive consideration for their work with Transitions Optical.

Drs. Glover & Lyerlyhttps://www.defocusmedia.com
Defocus Media is run by two successful Millennial optometrists and social media entrepreneurs, Dr. Jennifer Lyerly and Dr. Darryl Glover. They have proven track records of successfully engaging online readers and followers. They reside and practice in North Carolina.

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