3 Ways College Students Should Protect Their Eyes

If you're a college student, these years are probably your first extended time away from home, and that means it's also the first time you've been completely responsible for your own health, including your eye health. Your parents aren't there to nag you about reading in the dark or staring at the computer screen for too long. You need your vision in order to succeed in your studies, so take a look at some eye health tips that every college student should know about.  

Know When to Rest Your Eyes

Spending hours staring at a computer screen really is rough on your eyes. However, it's also part of the college experience – not only will you need to do research online, you may have whole textbooks that are in e-book form instead of regular books. You may also have to take some classes online. It's important that you know when to give your eyes a break from the screen.

The American Optometric Association suggests the 20/20/20 rule. It's very simple: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something that's at least 20 feet away. This isn't enough time to break your workflow, but it's enough to give your eyes a much-needed break from staring at computer or mobile device.

Practice Good Contact Care

If you wear contacts to correct your vision or just to give your eyes a different color, it's important to continue to practice good contact care in college. Remember that you're never supposed to let your contacts touch water – they should be in your eyes or in sterile contact solution. To avoid the risk of eye infections, take them out before you go swimming or before you get in the shower. Make sure that you have a pair of glasses as backup.

Also, keep in mind that college dorm rooms and bathrooms aren't always the cleanest places in the world, and with so many people sharing space, they tend to be pretty germy. You should always wash your hands before inserting and removing your contacts, but you should be especially vigilant about handwashing when you live in a dorm. Try to avoid touching your eyes when you aren't inserting or removing your contacts.

Don't Share Eye Products

Sharing often becomes a way of life when you live with another person in a small dorm room. But some things just shouldn't be shared, and anything that touches your eyes falls into that category.

Don't share makeup like mascara or eyeliner. Doing so is a good way to also end up sharing an infection like conjunctivitis. Mascara in particular is such a breeding ground for bacteria that you shouldn't even keep a tube of it for more than three months, and you certainly shouldn't share yours or borrow someone else's.

Make sure that you find an eye doctor in the area near your college. You still need regular eye exams, and you should also have an eye doctor to go to in case you begin to notice signs of an eye infection or vision problems.