With more than 21 million students back on college campuses, it’s critical to remind young adults and their parents of maintaining good eye health. Until students experience a specific problem with their eyes, they usually don’t seek out help. With increased exposure to disease, injury and eye strain, maintaining good vision should be high on their list of priorities.
Contact lens wearers should be reminded never to wear their contacts in showers, pools or hot tubs. Nor should they clean and store their contacts in water. They should always use the appropriate cleaning and storage fluid to sterilize their contacts. The CDC reports that 85 percent of Acanthamoeba keratitis cases are found in contact lens wearers. Acanthamoeba is a parasite found in water that can be very harmful to the eyes.
Because universities, and even small colleges, are heavily populated, it’s best to remind students and parents to practice good hygiene. Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye,” spreads rapidly and widely, but it can be avoided with frequent hand washing and less eye-rubbing. This practice can also limit the spreading of other infections that affect eye health.
Eye strain is another condition that affects students, as they tend to spend multiple hours in front of computer screens and reading for classes. Over time, students may develop problems focusing their eyes; this can occur due to staring at screens and objects close-up. In order to avoid this, teach students the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes they should focus on an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Since many students also enjoy an active lifestyle, reminding them of the importance of safety eye wear is tantamount to protecting their eyes. It’s also a good idea to remind them of wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection while they’re outdoors.
And, to ensure good, lasting vision, an annual eye exam should include optomap ultra-widefield retinal imaging.
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