As gamers, we often spend hours in front of a screen — whether with a high frame rate, high-resolution monitor, or the much smaller screens on our smartphones or tablets. However, it’s essential to consider the potential consequences of our increased screen time on our eyesight. A recent poll found that 38% of people in the UK believe their vision has been affected as a result of using screens more often. This has led to difficulty reading, migraines, and poorer night vision.
Similarly, a 2022 survey found that gamers in the UK spend an average of four hours and 36 minutes a week on gaming sessions, which is more than in other regions worldwide.
While eye health may seem trivial, it’s important to take care of our vision so that we can enjoy more of the high graphics being introduced by next-generation consoles and video games. After all, playing the latest AAA title on 4K @ 120 FPS won’t matter much if you’re busy battling headaches and eye strain. Below, we’ll look at how gaming affects eye health and explore practical ways to up your eye protection while gaming:
Gaming and digital eye strain
One of the primary ways gaming affects our eye health is the amount of time we spend staring at a screen — big or small. Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, is a group of vision-related problems from using electronic screens and devices for long, uninterrupted periods. Studies indicate that digital eye strain affects 75% to 90% of computer users.
According to insights from the NHS, an increase in screen time may also mean we blink less often than usual. This has led to many cases of dry eyes, as blinking helps lubricate our eyes and keeps them from feeling dry and sore. Many experts also believe that blue light emitted from digital screens may lead to eye strain and impact our sleep.
Optometrists recommend people practise the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, you should take a break from looking at your screen and look at something about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This can help prevent your eyes from drying out and can also help alleviate other symptoms of digital eye strain, such as dizziness or blurred vision.
Of course, it’s also important to seek professional advice if you suffer from dry eyes. Eye doctors are readily available today through virtual means, even if you think it’s not an emergency. Medical experts will often prescribe appropriate treatment to help relieve symptoms and provide more advice on preventing eye issues.
Protecting your eye health
Finally, taking the initiative and investing in preemptive eye care is always best. Wearing glasses can help correct any existing vision issues. You can also upgrade the lenses on your glasses to include blue light-blocking filters and reduce exposure to blue light from your screens.
For gamers especially, eyewear brands like Oakley offer headset-compatible models like the Holbrook and Centerboard, making them comfortable to wear even with headsets or headphones on. This helps eliminate the excuse of not wanting to wear glasses for fear of your high-end gaming headphones making it painful.
In the case of dry eyes, which can also be exacerbated by other factors such as your gaming room being too cold or lacking humidity, it always helps to have some eye drops handy. Today, eye drops are still the leading solution and first aid for dry eye syndrome, with companies like Johnson and Johnson, Novaliq, and Sun Pharma leading the way. If you find the drops are less effective, you can also inquire with your eye doctor about ointments that can help alleviate dry eye syndrome.
Ultimately, it’s best not to overlook your eye health during gaming sessions. New games and hardware are always in development, so it’s critical to take care of our vision to continue to enjoy next-gen graphics for as long as possible. No matter how intense your gaming session is, remember to practice the 20-20-20 method and invest in appropriate eye protection to protect your eyes from digital eye strain and other eye health issues.