Many students discover, much to their horror, that long days spent studying and longer nights partying plays havoc with their eyesight. The combination of long hours of reading, late nights, too much alcohol and sleep deprivation can trigger various eye problems.
Common symptoms include itching and burning eyes that often become red. Some people suffer from twitching eyes; this is usually a sign that one eye, the stronger one, is working harder to compensate for the weaker eye.
As the eyes become even more tired, blurred vision and double vision can occur. At its worst tunnel vision can start to develop. It is usually at this point that even the hardest working and most stubborn students realise that it is time to close their books and take a rest. If headaches develop or the more serious problems, such as blurred and tunnel vision, become more common it is important to make an appointment with a doctor or eye specialist.
Late nights, computers and alcohol
Eye fatigue can be caused by any activity that involves intensive use of the eyes over a long period. This includes reading and writing, both on screen and on paper, driving, and exposure to bright light or prolonged dim light.
For students the biggest problem is the long hours spent sitting at a desk reading articles and textbooks, both on screen and on paper.
A few years ago desktop computers were the main cause for an increase in eye fatigue but today the smartphones and tablets are leading to many problems. Computer screens, and the words on them, have become smaller and this is straining the eyes of users. People are also using mobile devices for many hours every day, carrying out the same social tasks on a screen only a few inches across that used to be done on a 17-inch VDU.
For lens and spectacle wearers very tired eyes are the first sign that a new prescription might be required. Overuse of computers and excessive reading are not likely to actually cause eyesight to deteriorate, often the problem is there beforehand; it is just that when the eyes become tired possible changes to an eyesight prescription first become apparent.
The brain is excellent at compensating for weaknesses in the eyes and many people are unaware that they need glasses until they develop problems resulting from eye fatigue.
Light alcohol consumption does not cause any short-term damage to eyes, but frequent drinking disrupts sleep and this can result in increased fatigue. Heavy drinking does affect vision as it impairs brain function, reduces pupil reactions and will decrease both peripheral vision and contrast sensitivity.
Your glasses and contact lenses
If you have a prescription for your eyesight you should always wear your glasses to prevent tiredness. If you do not wish to wear glasses when going out in the evening you can always buy some last-minute lenses which can be used for one evening and then discarded.
Essential Eye care
The simplest and most important way to help protect your eyes from overuse is to ensure that you look away from your desk or smartphone every fifteen minutes. Ideally get up from your desk and take a walk outside or somewhere where you can view a landscape to allow your eyes to focus on objects in the distance.
When using a computer ergonomics is very important. The eyes are positioned so that they naturally look slightly downwards. If a monitor is placed too high on a desk the muscles that control the eyeballs are under constant strain; it is better to allow the eyes to sit naturally – move your screen to suit your eyes, not vice versa.
Fortunately, this is very easy to fix, just ensure that the top of your screen is always level with your eyes so that most of the time you will be looking slightly downwards.
It is important to look after your eyes and give them the rest that they need.