Gaming and Digital Eyestrain

July 15, 2022
We all want to stay connected, and today, there are more ways than ever to do so. And the one thing connecting us most? Screens.
Digital eyestrain

There’s one demographic that may use screens more than any other: gamers. Results from our Gamer Survey show that on average, gamers spend more than eight hours a day using handheld electronic devices and over four of those hours playing video games on those devices. That is more than a third of a day on screens, but we’re not here to shame anyone. No one wants to give up their screen time, and no one is asking you to, either. Instead, let’s find ways to practice healthier screen time and take care of our eyes.

Pause to keep playing

One of the best ways to take care of our eyes and combat digital eyestrain is by taking frequent screen breaks. Gamers can play a single video game for up to three hours in a single sitting. In that single game play, most gamers take less than a 15-minute break if they even take a break at all. It’s best to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Here are a few other ways to remind yourself to take breaks:

  • Take a break to get a glass of water. Hydration is very important to your eye health.
  • Create a focus command through your settings or a reminder to blink.
  • Stop any gaming or computer activity at least one hour before bedtime.
Man washing hands

Consider your setup

No matter what games you play or your experience level, keep in mind that any time you spend on screens can impact your eyes. Many gamers are not only aware of eye-related symptoms but have personally experienced them while looking at a digital screen for an extended period. Symptoms such as eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes were worse in those who played video games for longer than three hours, according to a recent survey. And many experienced symptoms more from playing on a smartphone than from other devices. So, the way you play video games can also help, such as considering ergonomics.

Here are a few tips on setting up a healthy game station:

  • Distance yourself from your device, at least 20 inches for larger screens and 13 inches for smaller devices.
  • Ensure that room lighting is similar to screen brightness.
  • Tilt the bottom of your screen toward you to reduce the glare on your eyes.
Female gaming—digital eyestrain

Get checked offline to stay online

There are many tips and tricks to healthy screen habits, but by far the most important is seeing your optometrist for an in-person exam. Less than half of gamers visit their eye doctor the recommended one visit per year. Even though gamers are aware of the damage digital screens cause, they are reluctant to speak with their doctor about their screen time and/or gaming lifestyle. While many want to be more open with their doctor, they aren’t visiting their eye doctor to get their eye-related health issues checked with a professional. Seeing an optometrist is critical to getting in front of issues before they become long-term problems.

We all deserve healthier screen time, and there are plenty of small changes you can make to take the pressure off your eyes. Find an AOA doctor and schedule an appointment today.

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