Good vision is vital to learning in college. However, life on campus makes students susceptible to a host of vision and eye problems, such as injury, infection and increased nearsightedness.
These six tips can help keep students seeing 20/20 throughout college:
1. Don't shower or swim in contact lenses.
Acanthamoeba is a parasite that lives in water and can cause a rare but serious eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. According to the CDC, 85 percent of cases occur in contact lens wearers, one of the main risks being exposure of lenses to water. To avoid this dangerous infection, do not wear contact lenses in showers, hot tubs or when swimming in lakes or pools. Also, never use water to clean or store contact lenses; only use sterile contact lens disinfecting solution and a clean contact lens case.
2. Go outside.
Scholastically-inclined students spend much of their time studying indoors, which can put them at risk of becoming more nearsighted, or myopic. A 2014 study found that more than 50 percent of college graduates become nearsighted, with eyesight worsening for each year in school. Other research shows that spending more time outdoors can protect vision from getting worse. Head outside when possible.
3. Wash your hands.
Conjunctivitis, often called pink eye, spreads fast in schools and dorms. A pink eye outbreak struck more than 1,000 Ivy League college students in 2002. Avoid rubbing the eyes and wash hands with soap to avoid catching and spreading pink eye, not to mention other infections.
4. Give your eyes a break.
Nearly 80 percent of engineering and medical school students experienced symptoms such as dry eyes and redness, according to a study of students at one Indian university. To help avoid eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Because dry eye can also cause painful corneal ulcers, which are open sores on the front part of the eye, blink regularly and fully to keep eyes moist.
5. Don't share makeup.
Harmless as it may seem, sharing makeup is a surefire way to spread infection such as herpes keratitis among friends. Infection-causing bacteria grow easily in creamy or liquid eye makeup. Stick to your own makeup and throw it away after three months. If you develop an eye infection, immediately toss all of your eye makeup.
6. Protect your eyes during the game.
Nearly 1 in 18 college athletes will get an eye injury playing sports. Common injuries, like scratches on the eye surface and broken bones near the eye socket, happen most often in high-risk sports such as baseball, basketball and lacrosse. Athletes should consider wearing polycarbonate sports glasses to help keep stray balls and elbows from hitting their eyes.