It’s almost back to school time and all students need to be prepared with as much knowledge as possible to live safely on their own. This knowledge includes eye and vision safety, as failing to take care of their eyes today could cause damage to their eyes and vision now and in the future.
In this new world students spend a lot of time in front of screens. From class to homework and research to texting and social media – life is largely digital. This comes with a slew of potential side effects known as computer vision syndrome that include sore and tired eyes, headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, dry eyes and blurred vision — largely due to the effect of the blue light emitted from the screens. Research shows that blue light can also impact sleep quality and may possibly be connected to the development of retinal damage and macular degeneration later in life. Protection is simple and can include the use of computer glasses or blue-light blocking coated lenses or contact lenses when working on a screen for long periods of time; prescription glasses (even for those who may not have had them before; implementing the 20-20-20 rule (break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds; or eye drops prescribed by a doctor to relieve dryness.
Many students opt for contact lenses as they are convenient and great for the appearance, but they come along with responsibility. The busy days and late nights can sometimes make contact lens care difficult so make sure to plan ahead. Students should be sure to buy lenses from an authorized distributor and follow doctor’s instructions for proper care. Always follow the wearing schedule and never sleep in lenses that are not designed for extended wear; and clean and disinfect as needed, and don’t rinse them with anything other than contact lens solution. One-day disposable lenses can be a great option especially for college students as they offer ultimate convenience (no cleaning and storing) and optimal eye health.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to cause long term eye damage and lead to vision-threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally, in extreme cases of unprotected UV exposure one can get sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, which can cause a gritty, dry feeling, burning, swelling, light sensitivity, vision changes and sometimes serious pain. These symptoms typically go away within a day or two. Wearing 100 percent UV reflective sunglasses whenever outside – rain or shine – is a first step to eye protection. A large brimmed hat to protect the eyes from exposure from the top and sides is also a recommended addition for sunny days.
To start off school with the right foot forward, it’s recommended to get a comprehensive eye exam prior to the start of the school year. The screening will ensure that students’ eyes and vision are in top shape and, if they wear glasses, that the prescription is still accurate. The last thing students want to worry about when getting adjusted to school are problems with their vision.
It’s also recommended for students that are going away to another city to get a recommendation for a local eye doctor in case of an emergency. Most eye doctors know of colleagues located in other cities who they can recommend. Just remember to think about your eyes, as better care now means healthier eyes and vision down the line.