Whether it’s on your phone, tablet, PC, or television, chances are you’ve played some kind of video game recently. From Candy Crush to Angry Birds to Minecraft, video gaming long ago entered – and conquered – the mainstream.
But what does that mean for your eye health? Are video games actually bad for your eyes, or is that just an old wives’ tale?
Computer Vision Syndrome
It’s true that prolonged video gaming sessions can have short term negative effects on your eye health. This is due to what the American Optometric Association calls computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain. Excessive use of digital devices like tablets and computers can lead to eye strain, headaches, dry eye, and fatigue in your shoulders and neck.
This is caused by a number of factors, including glare and low screen contrast forcing your eyes to work harder than usual. Since video games require constant use of screens, and often by design encourage players to continue playing for extensive periods of time, you may experience computer vision syndrome more often when gaming than during normal use of your devices.
To help prevent eye strain, make sure you have proper lighting to reduce glare, take frequent breaks to rest your eyes and blink often. You might miss that power up, but your eyes will thank you for it.
What About 3D?
The rise of 3D gaming has brought with it a new set of concerns, which were exacerbated when Nintendo issued a warning that small children should not be allowed to use the 3D mode on Nintendo’s portable 3DS game system. However, while research is still ongoing, the AOA says it may be beneficial for children to play 3D games. That’s because playing 3D video games can actually help identify early warning signs of ocular disorders; difficulty perceiving 3D game images can be a sign of eye problems that might otherwise go unnoticed and undiagnosed.
How Gaming Helps Your Eyes
But that’s not the only way playing video games might actually help your eyesight. According to the National Institute of Health, studies prove that playing action video games enhances key aspects of visual processing, including spatial resolution – meaning gamers can actually see things easier and clearer. And some doctors have even successfully used video game therapy to treat and correct amblyopia, better known as lazy eye.
So go ahead and play video games. Just remember to do it in moderation. Because when it comes to your eyes, sometimes there really can be too much of a good thing.