The teenage years are often when common vision problems first arise. Watch out for signs of changes in vision, such as squinting into the distance or complaints of sore, tired eyes or headaches when using screen based equipment or doing homework.
Lifestyle factors that affect teenagers can also potentially impact their vision. The best way to protect their vision and ensure problems don’t go undetected is by having regular eye examinations with an optometrist.
Factors that may impact vision during teenage years
Appearance can be everything to teenagers, who may be reluctant to wear glasses if they feel it might impact their image poorly. The good news is that not only are glasses increasingly ‘cool’ and desirable within popular culture, there are also other options for vision correction, such as contact lenses. The huge variety of contact lenses available today, featuring advanced technology and coloured lenses, may enhance teenagers’ self-esteem if they need vision correction. Contact lenses are also an advantage for teens who play sports as they can enhance peripheral vision and be less restrictive than wearing glasses.
Too much screen time
Digital media are now a major part of most of our lives, and possibly for no group more so than teenagers. While teenagers love their gadgets, the overuse of digital devices can be harmful to the eyes as devices emit blue light, which can damage eyes over time and lead to Computer Vision Syndrome. This is the name for a group of symptoms caused by digital devices such as eye strain, tired eyes, irritation, red eyes, blurred vision, double vision and headaches. To reduce risks, screen time should be balanced with getting outside for some ‘green time’. Regular breaks (advising your teen to look up and away into the distance for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and taking a five minute break every hour) may also assist.
Being active and playing sports
Healthy, active teenagers are in a high-risk category for eye injuries, due to their tendency to play contact sports. Protective eyewear and specialist lenses from an optometrist can reduce this risk. An active lifestyle also goes hand in hand with spending more time outdoors and therefore more exposure to UV light. Young eyes are particularly sensitive to UV rays, so it’s important that teenagers have the right lenses to protect their eyes against UV.
Nutrition and hygiene
Teens with busy lives and different priorities may neglect to eat regularly and properly. Key factors in keeping eyes healthy are to get plenty of rest, eat foods rich in antioxidants and take special care to wash your hands and keep eyes free of germs and bacteria that cause infections.