Most eye doctors agree that video games won’t harm your child’s eyes if you follow a few simple tips. While there is usually less eye strain involved in playing video games than when they are doing something up close, such as reading, being in front of a screen for long stretches of time can leave eyes feeling dry, strained and fatigued.
If your child has a condition such as uncorrected hyperopia, myopia or astigmatism, or he wears multifocal lenses, your child’s eyes could be exerting extra effort to focus or working harder to maintain a clear image. Even children with perfect vision may experience blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches while playing video games.
Here are some tips to help protect your child’s eyes during video game play:
- Eye-Friendly Playrooms –To make playrooms eye-friendly, reduce any glare on the screen and ensure that the room has soft overall lighting.
- Periodic Breaks – Have your child take periodic breaks from computer and video screens to give his eyes a break.
- Keep Playing Screen Clean – Fingerprints and dust can reduce vision clarity so keep the screen clean.
- The 20-20-20 Rule – Make it a rule that every 20 minutes, your child takes a 20 second break to focus his eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This can help to reduce the occurrence of some of the aforementioned symptoms.
- Remind Them to Blink – Relieve the discomfort of dry eyes by reminding your child to blink when she’s in front of a screen.
- Prevent Playing in a Dark Room – In a totally dark room, the contrast between the screen and the surrounding area inhibits comfortable and efficient vision, but a softly lit room keeps contrast at a minimum.
- Proper Screen Settings – Adjust the screen’s brightness and contrast to match the lighting in the room to make sure the picture on the screen doesn’t look “washed out.”
- Sit Back From the Screen – Although sitting close to the screen is not usually harmful, viewing it from a distance will allow picture details to appear sharper and screen lines and defects will be less apparent. A child who insists on sitting close to a screen while playing video games may be nearsighted. Schedule an eye exam for them as soon as convenient.
Symptoms to Look For
Any time your child experiences any of the following symptoms, you should take them to the eye doctor for a complete eye exam.
- Eye strain
- Blurred vision
- Eye irritation
- Double vision
- Excessive tearing
- Dry eyes
- Pain in the eyes
- Excessive blinking or squinting
These symptoms may be due to playing video games for prolonged periods of time or they may indicate more serious vision problems that should be treated sooner, rather than later.