What Do You Need to Know About Your Teenager’s Ocular Health?

When your children were younger, you had more control over their eye health. You could keep careful tabs on their eyesight, take them to ophthalmologist appointments, and convince them to wear their glasses, even if they felt self-conscious around their peers.

Now that your children are teenagers, you might have a harder time encouraging them to follow your advice about eye health. They might resist wearing their glasses, or they may feel less willing to talk to you about their health.

Even as you acknowledge your teenagers’ burgeoning independence, you still have to keep tabs on their vision and ocular health. After all, your teenagers’ eyes are still developing. At this stage, it’s crucial to catch eye problems as soon as possible to prevent larger issues later on.

Read our blog below to learn everything you need to know about your teenagers’ eyes, and follow our tips to keep your teen on the path to healthy adult vision.

Common Teenage Vision Problems

Some vision problems are more likely to develop or worsen in teenagers rather than adults. Stay on the lookout for the telltale signs of the following conditions.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Unlike other eye conditions, amblyopia only occurs during childhood. Children with this condition experience blurry vision in one or both eyes. Over time, the brain learns to only see blurry images out of this eye, even when glasses should correct the blurred vision. If untreated, this condition can lead to vision loss.

Amblyopia develops in young children much more commonly than in teenagers. If your child has amblyopia, you probably noticed it when they were an infant or toddler. However, in milder cases, you might not have noticed your child’s vision problem until they grew older, especially if they didn’t see an ophthalmologist or optometrist regularly.

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, the latest period to treat amblyopia is during the early teenage years (no later than age 14). If your teenager has amblyopia, you must treat it as quickly and early as possible. Take your child and teenager in for yearly checkups, and schedule an appointment immediately if he or she complains of blurry vision.

Astigmatism

Many people are born with astigmatism, or an irregularly shaped lens or cornea. Astigmatism can be so mild in children that many parents don’t notice it. However, mildly blurred vision can become more apparent in the teenage or early adult years. Most ophthalmologists treat astigmatism with glasses or contact lenses. Severe astigmatism usually requires rigid contact lenses instead of more common soft lenses.

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Nearsightedness is a common change in the eyeball’s shape or, less frequently, the lens’ or cornea’s shape. A nearsighted person has a hard time seeing faraway objects. Typically, nearsightedness develops between the ages of 6 and 12. However, if your child was only mildly nearsighted, you might not have noticed the symptoms, which can seem to appear suddenly in teenagers.

Common signs of nearsightedness include frequent squinting and frequent headaches. Your teenager might also start holding books and tablet screens closer to his or her face, complaining that he or she can’t see the type or images.

If you notice these signs, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist. He or she will likely fit your teenager with glasses and/or contact lenses. Because they’re still growing, teenagers might need a new lens prescription for nearsightedness as often as once a year. The condition usually stops worsening around age 20.

Common Threats to Teenager’s Eye Health

Apart from conditions that become more apparent in the teenage years, teenagers deal with social pressures and changes that can imperil their vision. Make sure to talk to your teenagers about the following eye-related issues:

Participating in Sports

Many high school sports teams and clubs incorporate protective eyewear into their required sports gear. However, not all sports or schools require protective eyewear, and not all coaches or players diligently use them. Make sure your teenager always wear his or her sports eyewear, and talk to his or her coach about your eye-related concerns.

Maintaining Healthy Habits

Teenagers often fall into irregular sleeping schedules. They might pick up health-harming habits like smoking, or they might eat unhealthy foods more than healthy ones when they go out with their friends. Help your teen stay on a healthy sleep schedule, encourage him or her to avoid unhealthy habits, and always offer healthy food choices at home.

Wearing Glasses or Contact Lenses

If your teenagers need glasses, they might avoid wearing them if they don’t like how they look. While you can outline reasonable spending guidelines with your teen, it’s worth putting in a little extra money to find a pair of frames that your teenager really will wear every day. Alternatively, invest in a pair of contact lenses.

Stay on Top of Your Teen’s Eye Health

While your teenagers develop, continue to talk to them about their eyes’ health. As you look out for potential vision problems and encourage your teenagers to develop healthy habits, you’ll help them lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy vision.