DRAPER, Utah, Sept. 9, 2015 This time of year can be exciting or nerve-wracking for teens going back to school. One important factor that's often overlooked when returning to the classroom: a child's eyesight.
"Vision problems can absolutely affect a child's ability to learn and do well in school," says Dr. Clay Mattson, an optometrist in Lexington, Kentucky. "Because 80% of learning takes place visually, any issues with eye health or vision can greatly affect a student's ability to perform well in school." SEE ALSO: 7 Warning Signs Your Child May Have a Vision Problem
That's why 1-800 Contacts supports the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Optometric Association in encouraging parents to make an eye exam a part of their back-to-school process.
Back to school: more than pencils, pens, and paper
Most of the thinking around back to school is about having the right school supplies. "But having the right supplies won't matter much if the student can't see the board at the front of the room or focus on their reading material," says Dr. Mattson.
If vision correction is needed, contact lenses are often the preferred choice for middle school and high school students as they don't alter their appearance or hinder participation in sports, drama, or other extracurricular activities. With balancing those extracurricular activities, along with schoolwork, friends, jobs, and family life, caring for contacts can easily be overlooked.
Are you caring for your contacts correctly?
It's important for anyone who might wear contact lenses to develop safe wearing practices, particularly young adults who are developing habits that will likely last a lifetime. Here are four tips from 1-800 Contacts for teenagers wearing contact lenses:
4 tips for teenagers wearing contact lenses
- Clean them with multipurpose solution every night
Putting contacts in a glass of water won't remoisturize or disinfect them. And never, ever, lick a contact lens before putting it in.
- Clean your lens case twice a month
Bacteria can form in lens cases and contaminate contacts if the cases aren't cleaned at least every other week.
- Don't sleep, swim, or shower in contacts
Sleeping in contacts, unless directed by your doctor, will increase the risk of eye infections, dry your eyes, and make the lenses difficult to remove. Swimming or showering can cause harmful microorganisms, dirt, chemicals, or other irritants to get caught under your lenses.
- Follow your prescription replacement schedule
Some people wear their contacts longer than they should – "stretching" them. "Contacts are like any other medical prescription," says Dr. Mattson. "Always follow the prescription exactly as instructed by your doctor."
How to find the right contacts for your teenager
Ultimately, your doctor will prescribe the brand of contact lens based on the condition of your eyes and what you find comfortable, but it's still a good idea to be educated about different kinds of lenses before you go in for your eye exam. The 1-800 Contacts Lens Finder tool allows parents and their teens to answer a few short questions and provides recommendations of what lenses work best for your lifestyle – and budget.
Regardless of which brand is prescribed, patients should always leave an exam with a written prescription for contact lenses – not just an eye glasses prescription.
"An annual eye exam is so important," says Dr. Mattson. "Even if your child isn't experiencing any obvious problems, an eye exam can be invaluable in protecting his or her vision down the road."
SOURCE 1-800 Contacts