Teen Vision & Eye Health
Eye health is important at any age. And problems related to the eyes can occur at any time. This includes adolescence, a time when the body changes in many ways.
Common Teen Eye Conditions
Two of the most common teen eye conditions discovered during childhood and adolescence are myopia and hyperopia.
Myopia, more commonly called nearsightedness, makes it difficult to focus on things far away.
Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is the opposite. It makes it difficult to focus on things close up.
A third common vision issue is astigmatism. It occurs when the cornea isn’t perfectly round. It makes it difficult to focus close up and far away.
In all three cases, corrective lenses like glasses or contacts are usually needed to achieve clear vision. Refractive surgery, like LASIK, may be an option once a teen reaches adulthood and their vision is less likely to change.
In addition to vision conditions that require corrective lenses to see properly, teens are at risk for a variety of other eye health issues. These include:
- Dry eye syndrome
- UV light damage
- Scratched cornea from foreign objects, such as sports-related injuries
- Digital eye strain from technology like laptops and smartphones
Parents and teens should be aware of the various factors that affect eye health and development. For example, too much exposure to blue-light emitting devices, poor nutrition, and other potential eye health risks all play a role in vision.
Treatment for vision health problems varies based on the issue and its cause:
When in doubt, contact an eye doctor if you suffer from an eye injury. Even if you think the injury isn’t serious, it’s still smart to schedule an exam.
Many eye injuries occur when teens are playing sports. Wearing protective eyewear reduces the risk of sports-related injuries.
Visit the emergency room if the injury causes bleeding or affects your vision.
If your vision issue is related to something in your eye, the best treatment is to flush the affected eye with warm water. If this doesn’t help, contact an eye doctor.
Don’t wear contact lenses until you’ve resolved the problem.
Eye Disease or Infection
Contact your doctor if you notice symptoms associated with eye diseases or infections, like:
- Mild to moderate pain
If a vision problem occurs suddenly, seek medical attention.
If you notice gradual issues with clear vision, it’s probably not serious.
However, it could be an indication that you need to wear corrective lenses. Scheduling an eye exam is a good idea so your doctor can assess your vision.
Most of the time, problems with lifelong myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism are discovered during childhood or adolescence. Many people who wear glasses or contacts began doing so in their teens.
This is why it’s important to undergo a comprehensive eye exam every year or two, even if there aren’t any noticeable problems.
Eye doctors can detect mild vision problems that impact learning, even if someone’s vision isn’t severely affected.
Should an issue arise, your doctor can recommend vision correction tools.
How to Maintain Good Eyesight as a Teen
There are several things teens can do to maintain good eyesight.
For example, you should protect your eyes from:
UV Sun Exposure
People of all ages should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from UV light. This is true no matter a person’s visual ability.
Exposure to UV light causes long-term damage, including macular degeneration and cataracts.
It’s also important to limit screen time and protect your eyes when using technological devices. Too much screen time from video games, phones, computers, and tablets strains the eyes.
There are several things you can do to protect your eyes when using screens. For example:
- Change focus a few times per hour by looking at something far away
- Use artificial tear eye drops
- Wear blue light filtering glasses
- Limit time looking at the computer screen
Viral conjunctivitis (pink eye) is the most common eye infection, but it’s not the only one.
Here are some tips to reduce your risk of spreading germs that cause eye infections:
- Don’t share make-up products or eye drops with other people
- Wet your contact lenses in solution (never use your saliva)
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid touching your eyes when possible
How Often Should Teens Get Eye Exams?
Teens should have eye exams every 1 to 2 years.
Teens who don’t wear corrective lenses or have eye health issues should undergo a comprehensive eye exam at least once every 2 years.
Doctors recommend annual exams for teens who wear corrective lenses and those with a family history of vision problems.
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