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The Connection Between Extreme Gaming and Eye Issues

May 6, 2022
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

We all know that spending too much time in front of a computer screen is not the best for our bodies. With summer vacation straight ahead, the fact is that thousands of kids have been and will be spending thousands of hours watching Netflix, playing video games, or using screens for other things (even school work!).

 

“Well, why not?,” you might ask. The answer: Because people were not made to sit for hours on end. In many ways, when we rose with the sun and worked the land, our bodies and minds were better off. But that’s not the world we live in anymore. Problems with excessive screen exposure include not getting enough vitamin D because we don’t get out in the sun enough because we are cooped up indoors and not getting enough (or any) exercise. Both of these issues can result in irritability, obesity–and eye problems. 

 

Computer Vision Syndrome

 

We don’t often associate too much screen with eye issues. When adults spend too much time in front of a screen, they can suffer from computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of this syndrome include eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, blurry vision, and neck and shoulder pain. Not surprisingly, computer vision syndrome is also known as “gamer eye syndrome.” And when it comes to eyes and screens, kids are no different than adults. In fact, kids who are prone to myopia (nearsightedness) should try to limit their screen exposure, because too much screen time will mean that their myopia will become worse. 

 

Reasons for eye strain as a result of screen time are that your eyes change focus constantly while you are playing games. You also blink less often when you are in front of a screen, and this can cause irritation and dry eyes. 

 

As a concerned parent, it’s best to encourage your kids (or anyone else) to follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away. Ensure that they are sitting at least 6 feet from the gaming screen (think xBox). These two things will help to prevent them from suffering from gamer eye syndrome.

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Gaming Glasses

 

But there is another invention that might help. Gaming glasses. Though it sounds like it comes straight out of a sci-fi movie, companies like Gunnar and J+S Vision sell gaming glasses, which are supposed to reduce some of the negative effects of screen time. They do this by either blocking or absorbing blue light. 

 

They don’t only reduce blue light though. They also offer different features like tinted lenses which can reduce glare and increase comfort. Some lenses have an anti-glare coating. There are also lenses that offer UV light protection. Many of these glasses come with big wrap-around frames which block blue light from all directions and alleviate blurred vision caused by eye strain. 

 

Gaming glasses are relatively new, so we don’t yet have 100% proof that they do everything they claim to do. But if you or someone you know is serious about gaming, it might be worth looking into getting yourself a pair. Your vision is well worth protecting.

 

Written by Gila Isaacson

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