Healthy Eye Practices for College Students
This is a list of healthy eye practices and habits to follow that will go a long way in protecting eye health and preventing eye infections.
Protect yourself from digital eye strain
Digital eye strain can be very uncomfortable. It makes your eyes feel dry and tired and can temporarily blur your vision. Finding ways to prevent getting to the point where you experience digital eye strain symptoms will help you log more eye-comfortable digital hours.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following a 20-20-20 rule for device use. That means that after looking at a digital screen for 20 minutes, turn your gaze onto something about 20 feet away from you and look there for a full 20 seconds.
You don’t have to measure out what objects are 20 feet away from you. Just look out a window at something and if there isn’t a window then look at something at the other end of the room you are working in. Then focus on that distant object for at least 20 seconds. It takes about 20 seconds for the eyes to completely relax.
Stopping every 20 minutes for this eye break is also a good time to get a drink of water or maybe a cup of green tea so you stay hydrated. The catechins in green tea may help your eyes produce tears and that will help with dry eyes that can be a side effect of prolonged screen time. The catechins in green tea do this by inhibiting a protein (MMP-9) which has been proven to be a major contributor of occasional dry eye.
If your dry eyes become itchy or your eyes feel gritty, then use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes and protect your cornea from scratches.
Protect yourself from eye infections
If you wear contacts, follow your eye doctor’s instructions for use and cleaning. Microbes can build up under the lenses when you wear your contacts for an extended period of time.
Rub your contact lenses when you clean them. Even if your contact cleaning solution says it is “No Rub,” you should rub anyway. Studies have proven that rubbing the lenses with a cleaning solution and then rinsing is one of the best ways to avoid eye infections because it loosens and then washes away the protein and bacteria that builds up on lenses.
Don’t wear your contact lenses longer than recommended. When contact lenses cover your eyes for too long they can deprive your eyes of their necessary intake of oxygen. Give your eyes a break and a breathing spell by wearing your glasses for a while.
Don’t share eye makeup. Mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow can harbor viruses or bacteria and sharing them could spread an eye infection.
Protect your eyes when playing sports
Always wear protective glasses while playing a sport. According to the annual data from Prevent Blindness for 2020, more eye injuries occur from pool and water sports than any other category. These injuries may include eye infections and irritations, and scratches or trauma. However, ball sports still account for the highest total injury rate. Injuries may include corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, detached retina, a fracture of the eye socket and many more sight-threatening occurrences.
Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director
The Eye Professionals