College not so easy on the eyes

By Becky Reiser

‘ ‘ ‘ Blink. ‘ ‘ ‘ Posting a note on your computer screen to remind you to blink is a… ‘ ‘ ‘ Blink. ‘ ‘ ‘ Posting a note on your computer screen to remind you to blink is a practice Ivan Schwab recommended for college students. ‘ ‘ ‘ According to Schwab, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California Davis, students’ eyes are at severe risk from the demands of college life. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Basically,’ he said, ‘Everything your mother told you is right.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Eyes become dry and irritated from prolonged computer use, sleep deprivation, improper care of contact lenses and STDs, said Schwab Wednesday in an online seminar, or Webinar, on the advocacy Web site ‘ ‘ ‘ Red, blurry eyes might be a sign of dryness, which may lead to vision impairment over time. Eyes become irritated from less blinking, and people blink 50 percent less when using a computer or reading print materials. ‘ ‘ ‘ Schwab also suggested abiding by the ’20-20-20 rule.’ A shift in vision every 20 minutes will cause the eyes to readjust and blink normally again. ‘ ‘ ‘ Schwab said that students should ‘take frequent study breaks, not just for the eyes but for the brain, which does its best work in 20-30 minutes ‘hellip; this is the best time for retention of material.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Lack of sleep is also damaging to the eyes, he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ It isn’t just the brain that needs seven to eight hours of sleep a night to rejuvenate. The eyes also need this time to rest. If a person is sleep deprived his eyes will be irritated and will produce fewer tears, which will also dry out the eyes, he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ If a student has to stay up late to study, Schwab recommended power naps between study marathons. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘When your eyes are tired, your brain is tired, too, so gauge this and know when to sleep,’ said Schwab. ‘ ‘ ‘ Students who wear contact lenses should be especially careful. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Don’t cut corners financially here,’ said Schwab. ‘Follow instructions to replace and clean them when it says.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ When wearing contacts, it is easy to have dry eyes and not know because the contact protects the eye from the sensation, he said. Students should give their eyes a rest by wearing their glasses regularly and not falling asleep in their contacts. ‘ ‘ ‘ Schwab said that 18-20 hours is too long to wear contacts. People who wear contacts are four times more likely to get an infection than a person who wears glasses. While people who wear contacts overnight are 30 times more likely to become infected. ‘ ‘ ‘ Always rub contacts when cleaning, even if it is a no-rub solution, and change the storage case regularly to prevent an influx of germs, he said. It is also important to use solution, not tap water, when washing contacts to prevent water parasites from infiltrating the eye. ‘ ‘ ‘ Schwab said that STDs are another threat to the eye, and eye irritation can sometimes be the first symptom of STDs such as herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV., he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Take your eyes seriously, it’s not like a muscle sprain and will not heal itself, you might need to see an ophthalmologist,’ said Schwab. ‘ ‘ ‘ Practicing good habits now will prevent vision loss later in life. ‘ ‘ ‘ Schwab said students should eat a balanced diet including Omega-3, vitamins and antioxidants. If students are waiting to get Lasik surgery to improve their vision, Schwab suggested for them to wait until they’re at least 25, the age when the eyes have developed completely.