Optometrist answers to common questions about Teens and Vision:
Q: My teenager’s eyesight seem to be getting worse every year. Is there anything I can do? Should they be wearing glasses all the time?
A: Depending on the prescription, your doctor will advise when glasses should be worn. This will vary based on type and degree of prescription, as well as the type of vision problem being treated. In terms of progressively worsening eyesight, this is most common in myopic (nearsighted) children. Myopia increases the risk of a number of eye diseases in adulthood, so myopia control strategies are important to consider. Studies also show that spending more time outdoors, at least 60 minutes per day, can slow myopic progression.
Q: My teenager spends hours on an iPad and playing video games, is this bad for their eyes?
A: As noted above, outdoor time is critical to slow myopic progression. In addition, prolonged time spent focusing at near distances can also be detrimental. We suggest a break for at least 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away for every 20 minutes of ANY near point task (tablet, computer, reading, etc). Modern LED screens also emit high-energy visible light (HEV). This is light in the blue region of the spectrum. Studies to date are inconclusive as to the long-term damage from this radiation, but there are now special coatings for eyeglasses that protect the eyes from this potential harm. Long hours on video games can lead to a reduced blink rate and prolonged eyestrain affecting the tear film. This can contribute to dry, red eyes and ultimately eyelid diseases such as meibomian gland dysfunction.
Q: Are contact lenses safe for my teenager? Are they too young?
A: These were concerns in the past but are no longer an issue. Today’s modern lenses are very comfortable and highly oxygen permeable for safe all-day wear. With daily disposable lenses, the risk of eye infections is thankfully now almost non-existent. There is no age that is too young, provided they learn how to properly handle lenses and follow good hygiene practices.
Our optometric team will spend as long as needed to ensure your teen leaves with the skills and knowledge they need for healthy lens wear. Contact lenses are often preferable to eyeglasses for certain sports and activities where eyeglasses are likely to be a hindrance.