As technology advances, video games continue to grow in popularity as a leisure activity for kids and adults. From consoles to mobile devices, people are spending hundreds of hours immersed in digital worlds.
So how does this abundant “screen time” affect eye health, and what can be done to counteract the effects? Here are four ways screen time can affect your eye health and what you can do to prevent vision problems.
The Virtual Dilemma
Many video games have in-depth storylines that require a great deal concentration. It’s easy to get “sucked in” to these sagas and lose track of how long you’ve been playing. The same immersive atmosphere that makes these games so fun to play can cause blurred vision, headaches, light sensitivity, eye irritation and possibly even nearsightedness from the demands that digital media places on your eyes.
When you look at a natural landscape or read printed text, your eyes are focusing on static objects. By contrast, the images in video games are made up of hundreds of thousands of pixels, all of which are in constant states of motion. The fact that you’re viewing all of this on a flat screen a set distance away adds to the visual confusion. All the little changes in focus that your eyes are forced to make during gameplay can cause fatigue and make it difficult to focus properly on anything else after your session is over.
It may seem like a lot of fun to dim the lights and let yourself become completely engrossed in your favorite games, but the heightened contrast between the room and the screen can be irritating to your eyes. This is particularly problematic for kids who like to play games in the dark before bed. Having too much light can also have a negative impact since it causes glare that can lead to eye strain and subsequent headaches.
The Basics of Blinking
Blinking shouldn’t be something that you have to think about, but you have to be conscious of it when doing anything that involves looking at a screen. Regardless of the type of device used, people tend to blink less while gaming. This reduces natural tear production and can lead to dry, red or itchy eyes.
To prevent these and other vision problems, be proactive in your approach to time spent gaming:
• Set a reasonable limit for every session, using a timer if necessary
• Take regular breaks to look away from the screen and blink
• Use a chair that encourages proper posture
• Position yourself six to ten feet away from the screen
• Keep the screen, monitor or device at eye level
Explain these rules to your kids, as well, and always supervise them as they game to make sure that stay within the limits.
You don’t have to give up video games to keep your eyes healthy, but you do need to be smart about how much time you spend in your favorite digital worlds each day. Establish boundaries for yourself and your kids so that you can enjoy your gaming sessions safely.
Want to learn more about how screen time can affect your eyes?
CorrectVision Laser Institute is one of Florida’s most advanced practices for vision impairments with extensive experience in LASIK. Our goal is to open your eyes to the world of great vision by offering unparalleled expertise and the most advanced technology available.
Contact us today for a consultation with one of our South Florida eye specialists, located in Hollywood, Weston and Pembroke Pines!