A Gamer's Guide to Eyecare
Are you one of the 212.6 million Americans who play video games? If you are, then there’s a good chance you’ve wondered whether spending so much time staring at a screen—whether it’s your phone, your pc monitor, your television, or a handheld gaming device—can have a negative effect on your eyesight. According to some reports, the majority of gamers spend 8-12 hours playing games each week1, which comes out to a whopping 416-624 hours every year. That’s a lot of screen time! So how do you protect your eyes when you game?
Luckily, whether you’re the type of gamer who spends long hours striving towards victory in the latest battle royale title, or just like to relax every now and then with a cozy farming sim, there are a number of things you can do to help combat digital eye strain.
Wait. What’s digital eye strain?Even if you aren’t familiar with the phrase “digital eye strain,” you’ve probably encountered some of its symptoms: dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and watery eyes. Staring at a screen requires our eyes to work a bit harder—whether that’s because the letters we’re reading aren’t as clearly defined as we’re used to, or because of a glare on the screen, or the brightness of the light—all of which might contribute to digital eye strain. This means that one of the easiest things you can do for your eyes is…
Take a break!We know, we know—maybe you’re so close to beating that super difficult boss. But giving your eyes a break every now and then is a simple way to alleviate some of digital eye strain’s annoying symptoms. If you have a hard time pulling yourself away from the screen, consider setting an alarm that goes off every thirty minutes or so. If you play online games, you could even use the time between matches to take a quick snack break and recharge!
Don’t forget to blinkDid you know that we blink less when we’re looking at things like screens2? Though we generally don’t pay much attention to how often we blink, it’s actually quite important for our eye health. Blinking helps keep the surface of our eyes clean and provides fresh tears to keep our vision sharp. If you find yourself dealing with digital eye strain, remind yourself to do some blinking!
Check your screen’s brightness and positionIf you haven’t fiddled with your device’s brightness settings before, you might want to take a peek at them. While it’s nice to have a well-lit screen, many computer monitors and phones start at a much higher brightness than might be necessary. Try dimming it down to a level that feels more comfortable. Also, try to keep your eyes a healthy distance from the screen—most people recommend 20-25 inches3—since the closer you are, the harder your eyes have to work to make sense of what they’re seeing. Likewise, try to ensure the screen is eye level, and has no glare. If closing the curtains doesn’t help with keeping the glare off your screen, consider purchasing an anti-glare screen.
Use eye dropsIf you forgot to take our advice earlier and haven’t been blinking enough, you might end up with dry eyes. And while you might already know how uncomfortable dry eyes are, they can also be dangerous for your health, too. Dry eyes can lead to abrasions on the surface of your eyes, eye infections, and vision loss4. If your eyes feel dry during a gaming session, you can use eye drops to help lubricate them.
Consider blue light glassesMost of our devices produce blue light, a range of light that contains the highest amount of energy in the visible light spectrum. Excessive blue light exposure may contribute to digital eye strain. Luckily, there are glasses and contacts you can use to help combat the effects of excessive blue light exposure. Check out Eyeconic’s full supply of blue-light glasses if you’re interested in grabbing a pair.
Check with your doctorIf you’re experiencing consistent eye discomfort of any kind, the first order of business should be visiting your doctor. If you haven’t found a local optometrist yet, be sure to use our find a doctor tool to connect with one in your area. An eye exam can diagnose a whole host of other eye issues, too, like heart disease and diabetes, so it’s always a good idea to get one at least once a year.
ConclusionDon’t let digital eye strain come between you and your favorite games. Screens may be a ubiquitous part of modern life, but visual discomfort doesn’t need to be! Whether you’re fond of fighting games, story-driven RPGs, quirky indies, or any other kind of game, following these tips will ensure you don’t have to choose between a headache and your new favorite title.
Information received through VSP Vision Care's social media channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.