A college schedule is a busy schedule. With all the time spent interacting with a digital screen, whether for educational, communication or entertainment purposes or using books and other study aids, our eye health can be neglected. I spoke to Michigan Board-Certified Ophthalmologist Dr. Joshua Vrabec about what students can do to protect their short- and long-term eye health.
Q: What are some of the factors that can contribute to poor eye health in college students? How can students protect their eyes?
A: Injuries are the most common cause of permanent visual impairment in college-aged adults. More than one million eye injuries occur every year, and 90% of them are preventable. The most important way to protect your eyes is to wear safety glasses when working with machines, power tools, or even hand tools. Another common cause of problems is wearing contact lenses too long or, even worse, sleeping in your contact lenses. This can lead to corneal infections (ulcers) which can permanently impair vision for life. Young adults who find it difficult to maintain good contact lens habits may consider laser vision correction such as LASIK.
Q: How often should you have your eyes checked?
A: It depends. If you have a medical condition like diabetes or an autoimmune disease, you should have your eyes checked once a year. Likewise, if you wear contacts, you should have your eyes checked annually to ensure the lenses still fit properly to minimize complications. If you don’t have any of the above, you should consider having an eye exam once every five years.
Q: Why not sleep with your contact lenses?
A: Sleeping in contact lenses dramatically reduces oxygen uptake into corneal epithelial cells, causing them to break down more easily and become infected with bacteria. This leads to inflammation of the cornea (keratitis) or infection (ulcer). Treating ulcers can be very difficult and can lead to permanent vision problems and may prevent you from having a vision correction procedure in the future.
Q: Does taking steps to ensure good eye health now impact your health in the future? Is there anything else you think students should know about their eye health?
A: Taking great care of your eyes now is an investment in your future. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many examples of students who had tragic accidents that had a permanent impact on their vision. This can lead to your exclusion from certain careers in the military, aviation and certain medical fields. The vast majority of these tragic injuries could have been avoided simply by wearing protective eyewear or being more careful about wearing contact lenses. I’m also frequently asked about the dangers of computer and phone screens, and so far the jury is still out. Generally, it’s a good idea to give your close-focus (accommodation) mechanism frequent breaks to prevent eye strain, but there hasn’t been a definite benefit seen from eyewear to date. computer or blue light blocking.
I’m also frequently asked by students about LASIK, and specifically if it’s safe. The answer is yes, in the right candidate, laser vision correction (especially the more modern versions of the procedure) is incredibly accurate and safe. It has been FDA approved for over 20 years and can be a great way to free yourself from the inconvenience and cost of glasses and contacts. Anyone with additional questions about laser vision correction or LASIK, including whether they might be a candidate, are encouraged to contact our office at 248-710-2323 or contact us through our website: http:/ /mieyedoc.com