In today’s screen-centric world, children and adults alike are constantly on their mobile phones, tablets, computers, and watching television. There are dozens of ways to play video games today, at home, at work, and on the go? But could frequent playing of video games damage your eyesight?
Recent studies show that Americans spend over 10 hours a day on screens, with at least 1 hour of that playing video games. All this screen time could be negatively impacting eyesight in the long term, especially among children. So, how do video games affect eyesight?
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a term used by the American Optometric Association for digital eye strain. Using digital devices too frequently can cause eyestrain, dry eye, and pain in your neck and shoulders.
These symptoms are caused by glare and low screen contrast, which force your eyes to work harder than they usually need to see. Video games require the constant focus of the eyes, which can result in more frequent Computer Vision Syndrome than other use of electronic devices.
How Can You Prevent Video Game Eye Strain?
With the prevalence of screens today, even if you’re not playing video games, it’s difficult to avoid eye strain and computer vision syndrome. However, you can follow some tips to improve your viewing habits and reduce vision damage from video games, including:
- Following the 20-20-20 rule. Stop using your electronic screen device every 20 minutes by looking at something more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes adjust and not stay locked to your media.
- Use proper lighting to reduce glare, so don’t play in the dark or in extreme sunlight.
- Don’t play video games for too many hours daily (more than three can be excessive). If you need to use a computer for your job, take breaks as frequently as you can and avoid additional screen time.
- Utilize a glare-reducing cover or get glasses with an anti-reflective coating. There are even certain coatings that block blue light to reduce eyesight damage from video games.
How Can Gaming Help Your Eyes?
Despite all these worries about video game eye strain and potential damage, playing in moderation can help. Certain studies have shown the benefits of “action” video games for tasks like reading, driving at night, and other visual activities.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that playing video games can improve spatial resolution, allowing gamers to see objects clearer and easier than before. Some vision therapists have even had success using video games as a technique in treating amblyopia. It’s important to remember, however, that benefits only occur in moderation. Video games can create vision problems if played too frequently, but can be useful within reasonable limits.
The content of this blog has been reviewed for accuracy by
Erica O’Brien, OD, FCOVD – Clinical Director, OCVT
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