How to deal with Dr Google

2 August 2023
Summer 2023

When patients ask you about the latest miracle cure or danger to their sight, Kaye McIntosh asks, what’s the best way to respond?

With more information readily available now than ever before, it can be tempting for people to turn to the newspaper or a search engine to check their symptoms rather than go to a health professional. Patients who read headlines such as “The exotic fruit shown to protect against vision loss – ‘Nourishes’ the cornea” in the Express (Callingham, 2023) or “Lack of sleep could be linked to sight loss, study finds” on the CoventryLive website (Smith, 2023) need plenty of reassurance on what is and isn’t helpful information concerning their eye health.

Dr Louise Gow MCOptom, Specialist Lead in Eye Health at the RNIB, says: “Sensationalist headlines can give patients false hope, and optometrists may need to break disappointing news to patients.”

Figures from 2023 show that there were nearly 50 million health-related Google searches carried out in the UK between November 2021 and October 2022 (Benenden Health, 2023). That’s a lot of worried patients. So how can you stay one step ahead of the headlines?

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