To investigate the attitudes and understanding of optometrists in the UK and Ireland towards Digital Eye Strain (DES), and to examine related practice patterns.
An anonymous online questionnaire was developed, covering attitude and understanding of DES, examination of patients who may be experiencing DES and approaches to management options. The questionnaire was promoted to UK and Ireland optometrists via professional bodies and local and area optometric committees.
406 responses were included in the analysis. Most respondents agreed that DES was an important concern for optometrists (88.9%). 91.4% reported they felt confident in discussing possible symptoms of DES and management options; this was weakly and negatively associated with number of years qualified (rs = −0.198, p ≤ 0.001). Estimations of the proportion of patients affected by DES were lower than reports in the literature (median 25%, IQR 10%–50%). Most respondents always (60.6%) or frequently (21.9%) inquired about device usage in routine case history taking, and also asked follow-up questions, although 29.3% only asked about the presence of symptoms half the time or less. Advising on regular breaks (84.0%), lubricants (55.7%) and environment/set up (69.2%) were felt to be extremely or very important by most respondents. Advising on specialist spectacle lenses, specifically blue filtering designs, was considered extremely or very important by 34.2% and 15.2%, respectively.
Given the agreement that DES is a significant issue causing frequent and persistent symptoms, and practitioners reported high levels of confidence in discussing DES, patients can expect to receive advice on symptoms and management from their optometrist. Simple management strategies were felt to be most important to advise on, with more uncertainty linked to specialist spectacle lenses.