Should College Students Prioritize Their Eye Health More?

Since the eyes enable the processing of visual information, proper vision is vital to learning. Among school-aged children, vision impairments such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and binocular problems have been linked to poor academic performance, particularly in the areas of reading, writing, and computer use. Visual demands in the academic setting also increase as children age into college. At the university level, it’s crucial for students to have visual acuity and fine visual motor skills for attending lectures, taking notes, and completing exams for prolonged periods.

However, a busy academic life can make it easy for college students to overlook their eye health. In this light, we look at why proper eye care is especially crucial for college students and how they can better integrate it into their routines.

Why eye health should be prioritized in college

Among the main reasons college students should pay better attention to their eye health is the risk of myopia or nearsightedness during this life stage. Although myopia is said to stabilize around the ages of 15-16, 2022 research in the Frontiers in Public Health noted myopia development and progression among young adults aged 20-28. Moreover, myopia prevalence increased from 25.8% at age 20 to 33.2% at age 28. Beyond genetic factors, myopia in young adulthood can be attributed to modifiable risk factors like excessive sun exposure and late sleep times.

Aside from refractive errors, digital eye strain is also highly prevalent among college students. This is most likely due to excessive screen time, as a study found that Gen Z and Millennials used their phones the most with an average of 3.43 hours a day. Whether devices are used for studying, communication, or entertainment, these digital screens emit short-wavelength visible light, making the eyes more dry and tired and even causing blurred vision. Fortunately, college students can reduce the risk of eye problems by following the tips below.

How college students can practice eye care

Get regular eye exams

Whether or not you start experiencing signs of vision decline while in college, getting your eyes checked annually is crucial to ensure optimal eye health. Fortunately, there are accessible options for eye exams for college students. Even if you have a hectic schedule, eyewear retailer Target Optical allows you to book an eye exam online to help reduce waiting times. You can locate the closest branch to your college campus or accommodation and pick an appointment time that best fits your schedule. Target Optical also offers affordable eyewear if you need to update your prescription or simply get eyeglasses for additional vision protection.

Limit screen time

Regardless of the device you use to study and connect with friends, remember to limit your screen time to prevent straining your eyes and damaging your retina. Aside from the built-in app limits, Apple has recently launched the Screen Distance feature to help you develop healthy viewing habits, such as moving the device farther away after holding it closer than 12 inches for extended periods. You can also follow the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes.

Protect the eyes from the sun

Sun exposure was previously cited as a risk factor for myopia, but it can also lead to other eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration. Optometrists thus recommend wearing sunglasses with 100% protection from ultraviolet rays whenever you’re outside. Additionally, you can use eye-safe sunscreen and wear a hat to maximize coverage around the eye area, too.

With all these tips in mind, you can easily maintain eye health and safety while at home, school, or outside. Practicing proper eye care while you’re still young also helps ensure good vision for the rest of your life, so make sure you get into the habit now.

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