Mobile devices have become so ubiquitous that an average American spends over 10 hours a day on screens, with at least one of those hours playing video games. In this blog, your local eye doctor, EyeSite of The Villages, takes a look at how playing video games can affect eyesight.
Drawbacks and Benefits
The American Optometric Association refers to digital eye strain as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Frequent use of digital devices were found to cause eye strain and dry eye, as well as neck and shoulder pain. Video games force the eyes to focus on many things at once. Combined with glare and low screen contrast, the eyes are forced to work harder than normal for extended periods. Frequent use of digital devices also increase exposure to blue light, which suppresses the release of sleep-inducing melatonin. This results in delayed sleep times and sleep deprivation, which cause chronic fatigue, sleepiness during the day and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
You might be surprised to learn that video games have some benefits, if played in moderation. Certain studies have shown that action-based video games help improve eye-hand coordination, which is important for tasks such as driving and surgery. Some vision therapists had successfully used video games to treat amblyopia, a condition where vision is impaired or dimmed without apparent eye damage. Again, these benefits are derived only if video games are played in moderation. It also helps to see an ophthalmologist for an eye exam at the first sign of video game-induced eye strain.
How to Reduce Eye Strain
So many of our daily tasks are done on computers, tablets and mobile phones that it’s hard to avoid using one and avoid CVS. There are, however, some things that you can do to reduce the effects of video games to your vision.
The 20-20-20 Rule — Pause your game every 20 minutes and look at something more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps relax your eyes and not stay in constant strain as you play.
Reduce Glare — Playing in the dark or in sunlight increases glare. Play indoors using proper lighting. Use glare-reducing screen covers or coatings,and wear glasses with anti-reflective coating.
Limit Your Playing Hours — Don’t play video games for too long. Three hours is considered excessive.