Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Dr. Barry Tannen, a Developmental Optometrist
We are speaking with Dr. Barry Tannen, OD, FCOVD, FAAO, who addresses issues associated with your eyes as a result of increased computer usage.
Tell Us About a Patient Who Suffered More Computer-Related Eye Issues After Covid and How You Helped.
William is a 46-year-old computer analyst who was a first time patient in our office. He wore progressive eyeglasses (“invisible bifocals”) that were prescribed by a previous eye doctor. William explained that he had noticed some eyestrain and headaches prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but these symptoms increased exponentially after the pandemic started and his screen time increased from 6 hours per day to about 10 hours per day.
William now reports daily headaches, neck pain, and eyestrain all of which become severe by the end of the day. He often wakes up with these symptoms, an indication of suffering from what’s now known as computer vision syndrome.
What Was Your Course of Treatment for Computer Vision Syndrome?
A thorough binocular vision analysis revealed that William had an ocular muscle imbalance known as a convergence insufficiency. This is a condition where the two eyes do not easily converge at the point of focus. This potentially causes double vision, blurred vision, eyestrain, and headaches.
In addition, William’s progressive eyeglasses were causing him to elevate his head in order to attempt to find the part of the eyeglasses that were in focus for the computer screen. This strongly suggested why he was experiencing neck pain while on the computer.
What Modalities or Therapies Did You Use for his Computer Vision problem?
Our treatment plan was three-fold.
- Eyeglass Prescription
- Visual hygiene for computer users: This is more critical now than ever with the increased amount of screen time children and adults are forced to do given the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the basic tenets is the “20/20/20” rule which is to look away from the screen after 20 minutes of use to a distance of at least 20 feet for at least 20 seconds. It’s important to take longer breaks hourly.
- Computer progressive eyeglasses: These eyeglasses had the specific prescription for the computer screen in the top part of the eyeglasses and a stronger prescription for smaller reading font in the lower part of the eyeglasses. They were also to be glare-free lenses which had a blue blocking filter for visual comfort.
- A prescribed program of vision therapy: William was able to do behavioral vision therapy virtually through a vision therapist in our office.
What Was the Outcome of the Services You Provided for His Computer Vision Syndrome?
Soon after starting the vision therapy program and wearing his new computer progressive eyeglasses, William reported a dramatic improvement in his symptoms. He no longer had daily headaches and eyestrain and his neck pain had completely resolved. The only time he had any symptoms at all was when he didn’t follow the visual hygiene program we laid out for him. William was delighted with the outcome to say the least!
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?
When I was a first year student in optometry school, it was standard to have an eye exam with one of the fourth year interns. The intern found that I had a severe convergence insufficiency. This explained why I had never enjoyed reading for pleasure and was much better at learning through listening.
I completed a vision therapy program as an optometry student and I had incredible results. I was able to read comfortably for the first time and actually started to read for pleasure. After this experience I was “hooked” and decided I was going to specialize in this optometric specialty.
What Lessons Have Your Work and Professional Experiences Taught You and What Has Been the Affect on Your Lifestyle?
I have learned that it is vitally important to love what you do for your profession/work. I am very fortunate that this is the case for me. For me, it’s critical that I feel as though I make a vital difference in the patients whom I serve. I have found this to be the case by specializing in vision therapy and neuro-optometric rehabilitation, which is caring for the visual consequences from acquired brain injury (such as concussion).
Barry Tannen, OD, FCOVD, FAAO is in an optometric private group practice at EyeCare Professionals, PC in Hamilton, New Jersey, where his clinical and research emphases are visual deficits related to:
- Acquired brain injury
- Learning-related vision problems
Dr. Tannen is the program supervisor for a private practice-based, Residency in Vision Therapy and Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation at EyeCare Professionals.
Dr. Tannen received the A.M. Skeffington award for excellence in Optometric Writing from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development in 2016, the Ludlam Education Award by the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association in 2014, and the Scientific Achievement Award by the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians in 2002.
He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), Past President of COVD, and an Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus of the SUNY/State College of Optometry in New York.
Dr. Tannen lectures internationally and has co-authored over 60 journal articles, as well as a clinical textbook on Eye Movements.
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