Last week, we discussed the importance of regular eye examinations for children, and when they should be seen by an eye care provider. So what’s next….when should young adults have examinations after age 18? Dr. Mitchell continues to recommend annual eye health and vision examinations for everyone. The American Optometric Association recommends at a minimum, an eye exam every 2 years, but definitely every year if there are any ongoing vision or eye health concerns. What happens with vision when you are a young adult, and how do changes to your age influence the need for eye examinations?
For most people, the body and eyes reach their pinnacle of development in early 20’s. Your eyes can continue to change depending on how you use them. We often see kids go away to college, then start to have vision issues because of the way they are using their eyes! Increased intense near work and long hours studying, or using the computer can influence how well eyes focus. This can result in difficulty seeing in the distance, and can contribute to eye strain and fatigue generally. Even if you have never had a vision issue before, starting an intense program of study can make your eyes feel uncomfortable, and your vision less succinct. College aside, any job that requires long hours on the computer will influence how your eyes work as well. Here are some things Dr. Mitchell recommends for young adults:
Limiting computer work when you can. When you can’t, live by the 20/20/20 rule….this means looking at something over 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This will allow your eyes to relax on a regular basis….there are even apps for your phone that alert you when it’s time to take a quick break.
Use accommodative boost lenses. These are specially designed lenses that alleviate part of the focusing work your eyes have to do leading to less strain, reduced fatigue and the feeling of clearer vision. These can make a difference for any near work, but are particularly helpful at the computer.
Use blue-blocking lenses. Emerging research shows that over-exposure to certain high-energy wavelengths of blue light could be damaging your eyes over your life time. Many of our screens today are over-exposing us to these potentially harmful types of light. Dr. Mitchell recommends using a special anti-glare technology or material for your glasses that blocks the harmful types of blue light. In addition, using screens late in the evening or night can influence your circadian rhythm making it hard to settle down and get to sleep. Try setting a hard cut-off time for your screen use around 7 or 8 o’clock to help you settle down easier.
Already wear glasses or contact lenses? All the rules above still apply….if you wear glasses, getting an accommodative boost lens with blue blocking technology will help. If you wear contact lenses, you should consider wearing boost lenses over them for near work.
Laser correction: In your early 20’s you can start to consider permanent surgical corrective options like LASIK. This can free you from contact lenses and glasses until your mid 40’s in most cases. Dr. Mitchell can help determine if you are a candidate for this approach, and can coordinate the surgery for you. You can continue to see Dr. Mitchell for post-operative care as well.