Teen Vision Concerns
While many people expect growth spurts and acne throughout puberty, the eyes are also undergoing changes during the teenage years. A person who never needed glasses or contacts before may require vision correction.
In addition, common teenage behaviors—using smartphones, spending more time outdoors, or engaging in contact sports—can pose risks to their vision. This guide is intended to shed light on vision concerns that are especially relevant to teenagers.
Common Vision Concerns by Age
Kids: Myopia, Hyperopia, Amblyopia & More
Adults: Presbyopia, Glaucoma & Cataracts
Any Age: Eye Floaters, Dry Eyes & Photophobia
Getting Started: The Complete Guide to Healthy Eyes
Teenage Vision Problems
Here are several major vision concerns teenagers and their parents should be aware of:
Digital Eye Strain
Many teenagers get a lot of screen time relaxing with their phones, tablets, and TVs. Contrary to popular belief, sitting too close to a screen won’t cause your vision to deteriorate. However, too much time in front of a screen can have troublesome short-term effects on your eyes.
Referred to broadly as digital eye strain, this collection of symptoms can include blurry vision, headaches, or the feeling that your eyes are “tired.”
What causes digital eye strain? Screens emit a lot of blue light, and our eyes aren’t very good at bringing these wavelengths into focus. Extended time staring at screens strains the eye muscles.
There are two straightforward solutions for dealing with digital eye strain. To the extent possible, teens and adults should limit their screen time. Second, you can purchase blue-light lenses that prevent the most irritating hues from reaching your retinas.
Sun Damage from UV Rays
Doctors have done a good job promoting sun-safe behaviors for our skin, but many people don’t understand the dangers ultraviolet rays pose to the eyes. The delicate cells of our retinas can be damaged by UV rays, leading to vision loss or even cancer. Teenagers need to take the threat seriously, as damage done now can cause serious issues in the future.
The whites of your eyes are also prone to sunburn. That experience is as painful as it sounds, and there’s not much you can do to speed your recovery time.
If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Make sure they block 100% of UV light—not all sunglasses are created equal.
Astigmatism is a common vision condition caused by a misshapen cornea or lens. It often makes objects look blurry or distorted. Astigmatism becomes more common beginning in adolescence. It’s not always as dramatic as near- or farsightedness, but an eye doctor can detect it during a comprehensive vision exam.
Astigmatism can be corrected with glasses or toric contact lenses.
Many teenagers play contact sports like football. Teens are also prone to questionable behavior. Both scenarios leave them vulnerable to eye injuries. Our eyes can be scratched, poked, or subjected to blunt force. Eye injuries should be evaluated by an optometrist or ophthalmologist to ensure they don’t become more serious.
Prevention is worth a pound of cure. Wearing athletic glasses or protective eyewear can shield your eyes from most common injuries brought about by dirt, dust, or other foreign objects.
Your First Pair of Contacts
A lot of teens choose to wear contact lenses instead of glasses. Here are several things you need to know before buying your first pair of contacts:
- Your eye doctor will prescribe a specific brand and lens based upon your individual needs.
- Different lenses can be worn for different amounts of time. Some may be worn overnight, while others need to be taken out every evening before bed. Let your eye doctor know your preference before she writes the prescription.
- Unless you use disposable daily-wear lenses, you’ll need to clean your contacts every day with a sterile saline solution. Don’t use water, as it may contain bacteria that could lead to infection.
- Contact lenses can tear or float around in your eye. Ask your eye doctor to explain how to deal with these situations when you go for your fitting.
- Contacts are medical devices. Never wear contacts purchased over-the-counter or at costume shops—you don’t have any assurance that they’re safe and clean.