How to reduce eye strain while gaming

While gaming has increased in popularity through the years, according to NPD, four out of five U.S. consumers have played a video game in the last six months.(1) That’s a lot of gaming! Gaming has become a popular way to pass the time at home during this season of COVID-19. This is not a hobby solely for teens, but even for adults over the age of 65. 

With an interest in gaming growing among various generations, many wonder how this might impact their eyesight and what they can do to keep their eyes healthy while staying connected with friends online in gaming arenas. Eye health and gaming isn’t a concern only for those teens in your life, but possibly for the new-to-gaming grandmas and anyone in between. 

Here are three common questions about eye strain while gaming and ways our experts at VisionFirst can help. 

1. What are the symptoms of eye strain? 

Eye strain is a common occurrence for anyone who uses a computer, smartphone, television, or even tablet on a regular basis. You may be experiencing eye strain if you notice any of these symptoms following a significant amount of time on a gaming device.

Common eye strain symptoms:

  • Sore, tired, burning, or itching eyes
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headache
  • Sore neck, shoulders, or back 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling that you can’t keep your eyes open (2)

While these symptoms may not be the sole result of your gaming hobby, it may be a good idea to notice when these symptoms occur and the amount of time spent on a device beforehand. 

Consider jotting down the amount of time you spend on devices for a week and which eye strain symptoms you notice. Do you notice the symptoms disappear after time away from the devices? Which symptoms stick around that you may want to discuss with one of our VisionFirst eye care experts? 

2. Can video games damage your eyesight? 

The Mayo Clinic points out ways gaming can cause more eye strain than reading because users...

  • Tend to blink less when using technology devices.
  • View these devices from less than optimal distances.
  • Use devices with bad glares, reflections, or even contrasts between the text and background.(2)

Even the American Optometric Association gives a name to this digital eye strain from prolonged use of devices—they call it Computer Vision Syndrome.(3) 

It’s not like one occurrence of eye strain can be harmful to your eye health, but it’s the cumulative effect of this eye strain over a long period of time that you may not realize is so harmful. 

Sometimes eye strain has occurred long before this gaming hobby and this concentrated time in online competition has caused the eye strain to increase. How do you know if you had eye strain before your daily gaming habit began? 

The American Optometric Association notes, “Many of the visual symptoms experienced by users are only temporary and will decline after stopping computer work or use of the digital device. However, some individuals may experience continued reduced visual abilities, such as blurred distance vision, even after stopping work at a computer. If nothing is done to address the cause of the problem, the symptoms will continue to recur and perhaps worsen with future digital screen use.”(3)

A good rule of thumb when it comes to eye health is an annual eye checkup with our eye experts at VisionFirst. They can help you understand how your eyes are changing whether you’re 15 or closer to 50. 

3. How can you relieve eye strain? 

While 2020 is almost over (finally, right?!), maybe you discovered gaming is a new hobby you will take with you into the new year. So, how can you enjoy the online competition and entertainment without taking a toll on your eye health? 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when gaming to relieve eye strain. 

1. Light up your gaming room evenly. Too often gamers will play in darkly lit rooms that cause more eye strain. When you have adequate light your eyes aren’t as negatively impacted by the glow of the computer, device, or even television screen. There are also ways you can adjust the lighting settings on your computer, television, tablet, or even smartphone to help your eyes. 

2. Take breaks from screen time. It's common for your eyes to need a break from screens every 20 minutes. What would it look like to set a timer during gaming so that you're reminded of your eye health?

3. Try social-distancing from your screens. When playing games on your game system, how close are you to your screen? It’s better for you to be at minimum six feet away. Many times Computer Vision Syndrome impacts how the eyes focus, considering they are constantly focusing when looking at video screens versus how they focus when looking at something with a flat surface like a page in a book.(4) 

4. Understand your eye health. Before you started gaming, what did you notice about your vision? Was it difficult to read certain fonts? Do you already wear glasses? Have you considered glasses with blue light blocking lenses? Knowing what your eyes need will only help more when it comes to relieving eye-strain from your new gaming hobby. 

Want to find out more about your eye health and how you can be proactive in caring for your eyes while gaming? Then consider calling VisionFirst to set up an appointment where we can give you personalized care that considers the ways you work and play.

If you have experienced symptoms of eye strain for a prolonged period of time, don’t hesitate to get this checked out so our eye experts at VisionFirst can deliver the care you need. 

For further questions about your eye health or eye care. Contact us at VisionFirst. We’d be happy to answer your questions and hear your concerns. 

(1)https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2020/across-all-age-groups-us-consumers-are-investing-more-of-their-entertainment-participation/. (2)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eyestrain/symptoms-causes/syc-20372397. (3)https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y. (4)https://www.verywellhealth.com/playing-video-games-may-cause-eyestrain-3421596

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