Tara Robertson: How one gamer’s shared passion with her optometrist optimized her care

March 17, 2023
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.
Tara Robertson

Tara Robertson is a military vet whose passion for gaming came after her service in 2008. Between working and gaming, her screen time averages around 11-12 hours a day. So it’s no surprise Tara noticed symptoms from her extended amount of screen time. Her headaches, dry eyes, and irritation were becoming unbearable; it was causing her to give up on her favorite digital hobby.

That’s when Tara went in for a comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Meghan Elkins. An AOA doctor of optometry and a gamer herself, Dr. Elkins understands the issues that come from elevated screen time and how to address many of the eye health conditions gamers face. “I’ve been an AOA doctor of optometry since 2010 and an avid gamer since 1987. When addressing screen-related eye health concerns with patients, I look to my personal experiences as well as my professional expertise,” Dr. Elkins said.

Tara explained how her symptoms, including pain and blurred vision, were interfering with her daily activities. Dr. Elkins recommended she immediately start daily use of eye drops, explaining “many patients can overlook the spectrum of problems that dry eye can cause aside from their eyes feeling irritated.” Incorporating eye drops into her routine improved Tara’s symptoms, “I can tell when I forget to use the drops. I have noticed less irritability and significantly more moisture since being on her treatment plan,” Tara said.

These symptoms started about three years ago. Since then, Tara has been seeing Dr. Elkins twice yearly, if not more. “Besides the annual exam for glasses and contacts I didn’t give eye health much thought, but when you start experiencing issues and see the way that poor eye health can really affect you and impact your daily life you tend to take it more seriously,” Tara explained.

Tara learned first-hand that small habits can make a large impact. “Something as simple as dry eyes can impact your daily life in ways one cannot imagine,” said Tara. “Take care of your eyes, they are the only two you have.” But it doesn’t just start with symptoms, preventative care can save you from further problems down the line.

In-person exams with Dr. Elkins have allowed Tara to maintain her eye health and avoid further damage. In the case of dry eye, it is important to be consistent with whatever treatment your doctor has prescribed. “I always recommend using your eye drops every single day as prescribed because if you wait until you feel like you have a problem it is already too late—we are trying to prevent a problem from even happening. Sometimes once you have symptoms of something more serious in nature it can be too late to reverse the damage that has already taken place,” Dr. Elkins shared. “It seems to me that patients can overlook the spectrum of problems that dry eye can cause aside from their eyes feeling irritated, which is why I truly feel annual comprehensive eye exams are essential since many eye health and vision problems have no obvious signs or symptoms.”

Tara is grateful for the relationship she’s developed with Dr. Elkins.

“I feel like she has the ability to relate to my issue because it affects most gamers, but I also feel that she is pretty great at personalizing her care to each patient. She is a great doctor who genuinely loves her patients and wants to care for them the best way she can.” -Tara Robertson

If you are experiencing any irritation or symptoms like Tara’s, find an AOA doctor near you. One yearly exam can lead to a lifetime of healthier eyes and a better future.

Meghan Elkins, O.D.Meghan Elkins, O.D.

Meghan Elkins, O.D., is a staff optometrist at the Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia. She is a 2010 graduate of Southern College of Optometry and completed a Primary Care Optometry residency at the Salem VAMC in Salem, Virginia. Dr. Elkins became a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry in 2012. She has previously lectured for the Southeastern District of the NC Optometric Society, the Indiana Optometric Association, the Armed Forces Optometric Society, and the AAO. She is a past chair of the education committee and a current AFOS board member. In 2016, she was chosen as the VA Young OD of the Year for AFOS. She is currently a member of the AOA’s Membership Development Committee. Her favorite hobbies include rock climbing, skiing, whitewater rafting, trail running, and most of all, gaming.

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