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Dylan Shockey: Prioritizing eye health with high levels of screen time
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Dylan Shockey has worn glasses since the fourth grade and began wearing contact lenses in the sixth grade when he started playing tackle football. Although he has worn prescriptive eyewear from a young age and has been in and out of the optometrist’s office more times than he can count—for routine check-ups and for treatment for a corneal abrasion due to contact lens overwear—it wasn’t until he started his career as a mechanical engineer that he realized how important maintaining your eye health truly is.
Fresh out of graduating from the University of Mississippi and diving into his engineering career, during a routine doctor’s visit, Dylan was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It wasn’t until he visited his optometrist following his visit with his general practitioner that he had a full eye exam and discovered that the high blood pressure was affecting the blood vessels at the back of his eyes. This was contributing to the dull pressure and headaches Dylan was experiencing prior to his diagnosis.
Dylan’s optometrist, Christina Miller, O.D., recalls what she discovered through his eye exam after analyzing his eye health, “looking into the back of his eyes, you could see that his blood vessels were enlarged.” As blood pressure rises over time and is left untreated, artery walls can begin to narrow and harden, which can lead to a condition called hypertensive retinopathy. In this condition, high blood pressure causes damage to the blood vessels of your retina in the back of your eye. Since hearing about the signs of high blood pressure in his eyes, Dylan immediately saw his general practitioner to learn how to manage his blood pressure to minimize its impact on his eye health.
As Dylan spends a lot of time in front of screens both for work and for pleasure—he clocks in over 40 hours on an average work week, and he’s logged over 269 hours playing Elden Ring with his buddies— he’s struggled with chronic dry eye. His chronic dry eye ultimately caused a corneal abrasion from contact lens overwear and lack of lubrication in his eye. Dr. Miller, a gamer herself, immediately saw the correlation between Dylan’s screen time and his eye issues. She encouraged Dylan to switch to wearing daily contact lenses and occasionally opting for his eyeglasses, which in combination has helped manage his chronic dry eye.
Dry eye is a common problem for people who stare at screens for a prolonged period of time. If your eyes are too close to a screen for too long, this puts a lot of strain on your eyes. Practicing good habits like the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds – gives a chance for the eyes to refocus and blink more which will keep the surface of the eye moist, minimizing risk of developing dry eye.
After his experiences, Dylan advocates for the importance of prioritizing your eye health as part of an everyday routine and emphasizes visiting a doctor of optometry in person annually. An optometrist “knows what they're talking about and is able to understand not only the health of the eye and how to keep them in the most optimal shape, but also how our eyes relate to the rest of your body.”
With his blood pressure and eye health under control, Dylan enjoys spending time with his wife, family and friends and serving as the head coach of Saint Benedict at Auburndale High School’s lacrosse teams in Memphis. He offers one piece of advice for people to take their eye health more seriously.
“Your eyes are going to tell a story probably before you ever realize the story is being told. It’s better to jump in at chapter one than chapter twenty.” -Dylan Shockey
Christina Miller, O.D.
Christina Miller, O.D., is a 2004 graduate of Huntingdon College, in Montgomery, Alabama, and a 2009 graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, in Memphis, Tennessee. She owned and operated Fayette Family Vision Care in Eads, Tennessee, from 2010 until 2019, and has been with Family Eye Care in Blytheville and Osceola, Arkansas, since 2017. Dr. Miller was named the 2014 Young Optometrist of the year by the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians and received the 2022 Special Services Award from the Arkansas Optometric Association for her work with their social media. She also currently serves as clinical consulting faculty at the Southern College of Optometry, working with third year students in the adult primary care clinic.
Dr. Miller is a member of the American Optometric Association, the Social Media Director of the Arkansas Optometric Association and is past president of the West Tennessee Optometric Physicians Society.
Find an AOA doctor of optometry near you.
Tara Robertson took up gaming after completing her active military service and her new hobby came with a sharp increase in screen time. The symptoms she experienced are what led her to book a comprehensive eye exam, but once she arrived, she found something unexpected; a fellow gamer leading her care.
After being rear-ended, Catherine spent the next two years trying to get relief from her traumatic brain injury symptoms. She was discharged from the hospital without answers and bounced around to various specialists to no avail—until she saw a doctor of optometry.
ARUUU is a Muslim American content creator and Twitch streamer. For her, eye health is a necessity to stay at the top of her game. Prolonged screen time from streaming can put a strain on the eyes so an annual appointment with her doctor of optometry is vital for her to stay healthy.