Your vision may change frequently during the school years. The most common problems are due to the development and progression of shortsightedness (myopia). In addition, the existence of eye focusing and/or eye coordination problems can affect school performance in the classroom or during after-school sports and activities.
The best way to protect your vision is with regular professional eye examinations. You may be at special risk for eye problems if there is a family history of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or poor vision. In between examinations, if you notice a change in your vision or your eye is injured in any way, ask your parents to contact your optometrist.
The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to get plenty of rest, eat foods rich in antioxidants^1^, take special care when applying make-up and hair spray, and – most of all – wash your hands often to help keep your eyes free of germs and bacteria that cause eye infections.
40% of hospital admissions for eye injuries in the US are related to sports^2^. Here’s the scary part: 71% of these injuries happen to people under the age of 25^3^. Teenagers are in the highest risk category for serious eye injuries, especially if you play racket sports like tennis, badminton, or squash. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to protect your eyes.
Do goggles really help?
Yes. And, goggles and shields do much more than protect your eyes from injury. Many goggles or safety glasses come with tints to reduce sun glare, light-filtering capabilities that make it easier to see certain colours (like yellow tennis balls), and polycarbonate lenses that stand up to sudden, sharp impact.
If you injure your eye
Accidents happen. And because it’s not easy to judge the extent or severity of any eye injury, you should always get immediate, professional medical attention. It’s the best way to safeguard your vision. The following symptoms may signal serious eye injury:
Obvious eye pain or vision problem
Cut or torn eyelid
One eye that does not move as completely as the other
One eye that protrudes more than the other
Abnormal pupil size or shape
Blood in the white of the eye
Something imbedded in the eye
Something under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed
Protect your eyes from the sun
Sure, sunglasses look cool. But they also protect your eyes from harmful ultra violet (UV) rays to help prevent long-term damage. Choose sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection, to block both forms of ultraviolet rays. A hat will help block indirect sun, which can come into the eyes around the edges of sunglasses.
The best way to preserve and protect your vision is through regular professional eye examinations. For teens, if corrective lenses are needed, it’s also a matter of determining if you’re “ready” for contacts. This may not be based on any sort of age guidelines – only your willingness to care for and wear lenses properly.
Between examinations, if you notice a change in your vision – or your eye is injured in any way – tell your parents so they can contact your optometrist as soon as possible.
What can you expect from a comprehensive Eye Exam?
Each optometrist has a routine, but most comprehensive eye exams follow a similar pattern. First, the optometrist will review your personal and family health history to check for eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or poor vision.
Then, your optometrist will conduct tests to check for:
Vision - The optometrist can check for short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia. While you look at an eye chart, the optometrist will assess your vision for long distance and reading, and, if necessary, determine a prescription for corrective lenses.
Coordination of eye muscles - The optometrist will assess how well your eyes work together by asking to you to look at different objects while they cover and uncover your eyes.
Visual fields test- The optometrist will use a piece of equipment called the visual field screener to assess the full horizontal and vertical range and sensitivity of your vision, which can be a good indicator to the health of your visual system.
Pupil response to light - The optometrist will shine a light in your eyes and watch the pupil's reaction.
The health of the front and the back of your eyes - The optometrist will use either a handheld torch called an ophthalmoscope or a table-mounted microscope called a slit lamp to look for any abnormalities.
Measurement of eye pressure - The optometrist will release a puff of air onto your eye using an instrument called a tonometer. This tests the pressure inside the eye, an early indicator of Glaucoma.
You may already know if you’re shortsighted, longsighted or if you have astigmatism, the three most common vision issues that come to light when you’re young.
For now, put aside the idea of laser eye (or refractive) surgery. It’s something to consider when you’re in your twenties. Glasses may be still your best option. If you feel that you’re ready for contact lenses, talk to your parents. However, your parents and your eye care professional may decide that it’s best for you to wait. Your eyes will continue to change throughout your lifetime, so contact lenses may be an appropriate solution in the future.
Ready for Contacts Lens?
How can you tell if you’re ready for contact lenses? There’s really no set age. Your eye care professional may suggest contact lenses when you’re as young as 11 years old, or even younger. You do need to make a commitment to taking care of your contact lenses on a daily basis, unless you choose a daily disposable lens that you wear for a day, then, throw them away.
You are the most qualified person to judge your teen’s readiness for contact lenses. For information about contact lens care, the kinds of contact lenses available, the cost of lenses compared to glasses and the things your teen will need to do to wear contact lenses in the healthiest way see our parents’ guide to contact lenses.
Parents Guide to Contact Lenses
This guide is designed to help answer your questions about your teenager wearing contact lenses.
How do I know when my child is ready for contact lenses?
There’s no “right age” to begin wearing contact lenses. It’s more about your child’s level of responsibility. If you feel your child can responsibly care for lenses, then they’re ready. If your teen is talking about contacts, and generally likes to try new things, that indicates they will probably have success with contact lenses. Sports and extracurricular activities are also good indicators of being able to follow a routine. If you still need help determining whether your child is ready for contact lenses, talk to your eye care professional.
Vision correction options
Contact lenses are designed for a variety of vision correction needs – from shortsightedness (myopia) and longsightedness (hyperopia), to more advanced needs like astigmatism. While they’re all designed to improve vision, there are differences – in optics, materials, and replacement schedules.
Some contact lenses even have enhanced optics to reduce the effects of spherical aberration, a natural occurrence that can cause halos and glares around lights at night. The optical design of your child’s lens will depend on his or her vision correction needs and how the lenses will be used.
What about younger-aged children?
There are many lens attributes to consider when deciding on a contact lens for your teenager. Your child’s eye care professional will take a number of factors into consideration when determining the right lens for your child, including:
Ease of insertion/removal
Lens strength to resist damage
Ability to resist build-up over time
Lenses are also designed for specific wearing times. Depending on what’s best for your child, your eye care professional may recommend a lens that’s worn for one day (daily disposable), or one that’s designed for one month of daily wear.
Teens and Sports
What about sports?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that teens are in the highest risk category for serious eye injuries, especially when playing racket sports like tennis or squash. Always wear sports goggles or shields for proper eye protection. Many goggles can actually improve your sports vision whether you need vision correction or not. New technology lenses give you the edge you need by reducing glare, enhancing contrast, and substantially reducing exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
To be competitive on the playing field you need peak performance from your entire body – and your eyes are no exception. Sports vision is "full-scope," and primary eye care can help you optimize these three key visual skills:
• Contrast Sensitivity lets you see fine details from a distance – like the subtle contours of a golf course. • Dynamic Visual Acuity keeps your vision as clear when you're running as when you're standing, so you can see every obstacle. • Focus Flexibility keeps a ball in sharp focus as it moves toward or away from you. What visual skills do you need?
Every sport has unique demands: depth perception, peripheral vision, eye-hand coordination. And every sport poses unique challenges: glare, wind, haze, and close encounters with moving objects. To win, you need to conquer them all.
Make every sport a contact sport
Contact lenses are ideal for athletes. They offer a more natural vision correction option than eyeglasses. Contact lenses can increase peripheral vision. You can wear protective eyewear over them – such as goggles or sunglasses. And you can quit worrying about broken frames or lenses. Plus, contact lenses won’t fog up, slide down, or fall off. All of which adds up to better vision when you need it most.