Winter break is in a few weeks and, with college students finding their way home for the holidays, it is a good time for parents to check in and make sure their independent kids are taking care of themselves properly. Vision plays a key role in learning as well as extra-curricular activities and college students, in particular, are susceptible to a host of eye and vision problems including injuries, infections, and increased nearsightedness. Here are 7 tips for college students to keep their eyes and vision safe and healthy during the semester.
1) Wash your hands frequently.
College dorms and crowded classrooms can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, one of the most common of which is conjunctivitis or pink eye. To keep the germs away and stay healthy, wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water and try as much as possible not to touch your eyes
2) Take care of your contact lenses.
With the late nights and busy college life, it can be easy to get lax with contact lens care, but don't! Always adhere to your eye doctor's instructions for proper contact lens hygiene. Don't sleep in your contacts if they’re not approved for extended wear, disinfect and store properly, only use contact lens solution, and don't swim or shower with your lenses in. In addition to causing dry eyes and irritation, improper care of lenses can result in serious infections and in the worst cases permanent scarring and vision loss.
3) Take a break.
Many hours of studying can take their toll on you and in today's digital age, the results could be even more dramatic. Blue light from computers, tablets, and mobile phones has been linked to vision complications and computer vision syndrome which can cause blurred vision, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain. If you are working at a computer or in front of a screen for hours at a time, follow the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes take a break and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you spend most of your day on the computer consider purchasing a pair of computer glasses to lessen the effects of the screen on your eyes.
4) Get out.
Do yourself a favor and get outside regularly. Studies show that more than 50 percent of college graduates are nearsighted, with eyesight worsening with each school year. Further research has shown that spending more time outdoors can protect vision from getting worse.
5) Handle Makeup with Care.
Makeup, particularly liquid or creamy eye makeup, can be a breeding ground for infectious bacteria. Never share makeup with friends and if you get an eye infection throw away your makeup asap. A good rule of thumb is to replace all eye makeup every three months.
6) Use Eye Protection.
If sports are part of your college experience, make sure you are keeping your eyes safe with proper eye and vision gear. Protective, polycarbonate or trivex sports glasses, skiing and swim goggles can protect your eyes from scratches, bumps, bruises or worse.
7) Get a Yearly Eye Exam.
As mentioned above, it is common for college students to experience a decline in vision which could have an impact in and out of class. Get a yearly exam to make sure you can see your best and that your eyes in general are healthy. If you enjoy sitting at the back of the lecture hall, your eye checkup can ensure you have updated glasses or contact lenses at your optimal vision.
With all of the excitement of winter break, many college students find that their vacation flies by. Before the fun comes to an end, consider that winter vacation is the perfect time to schedule your yearly eye exam. You may even get a brand new pair of eyeglasses to spruce up your post-vacation wardrobe.