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How Computers and Games May Be Harmful to Your Kids’ Eyes

Eighty-six percent of parents believe their children spend too much time playing video games. You might be one of them.

And your concerns surrounding your child’s eye health are valid.

The gaming and computing industry has been at an all-time high for the past two years. Currently, over one-third of the world’s population are active gamers. But as they’re busy engaging in their favorite pastime, what are these digital instruments doing to their eyes?

The following problems are linked to prolonged use of computers and playing games in kids.

Dry Eyes

Medical research shows that you blink 66% less while using digital screens. The side effect of that is dry eyes.

Blinking hydrates the eyes by spreading tears over the surface of your eyes. This effectively moisturizes and lubricates your eyes. Prolonged use of computers or playing video games can lead to these symptoms of dry eyes:

  • Itchy or dry eyes

  • Red eyes

  • Gritty feeling in the eye

In extreme cases, dry eyes caused by extended periods of reduced blinking can lead to permanent damage to the cornea.

Computer Vision Syndrome

According to the American Optometric Association, this is a short-term negative effect prolonged use of digital devices can have on your eyes. This condition is also known as digital eye strain.

Computer vision syndrome (CSV) is caused by several factors such as low screen contrast and glare, which cause your eyes to work harder. Since computer games are designed to keep players glued, prolonged use can cause this.

Computer vision syndrome among children can be prevented by having proper lighting to reduce glare, taking frequent breaks to rest the eyes, and blinking often.

Eye Strain or Headaches

Playing video games while looking at a computer screen requires heightened visual focus. Moreover, most games have frequent movements on the screen that often force players to refocus and move their eyes.

This overuse of the eyes can cause eye strain or headaches. Some of the signs your child might be experiencing eye strain include:

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Migraine or headache

  • Increased light sensitivity

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Sore back, shoulders, and neck

Young girl with glasses on tablet

Blurry Vision or Increased Myopia

The eye focusing system can temporarily spasm or lock up if you gaze at the same distance for an extended time. This condition, known as accommodation spasm, causes a child’s vision to blur when they look away from a TV or computer screen.

Other studies suggest this prolonged and close-up computer use contributes to increased myopia or nearsightedness. However, there isn’t much supporting proof.

Computers and Games Also Have Benefits to the Eye

In rare cases will video games damage kids’ eyes. The most harmful effects of computers and video games come from prolonged screen time and exposure to blue light. However, in moderation, there are considerable benefits video games and computers can have for your child.

The most striking one was revealed by research done by the University of California, Berkeley. The researchers discovered that first-person action games help improve spatial resolution, suggesting that video games can serve as rehabilitation therapy for kids suffering from conditions such as the lazy eye.

Action games, and most games in general, also boost visual reaction time and attention and help improve contrast sensitivity. The latter allows us to separate shades of color against a uniform background.

Try and Workout a Balance

To get both the fun and health benefits of playing video games, it’s imperative to balance screen time and rest.

For instance, it’s best to limit playing to daylight hours to reduce exposure to blue light at night. Overexposure to blue light disrupts sleep patterns.

You can also guard your child against computer vision syndrome by having them take breaks after every 20 minutes. Work with the 20/20/20 rule where your child should look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds after playing video games for 20 minutes.

Child playing on computer with glasses

Consider Getting Children's Eyewear

Consider getting your child fitted screen time glasses for extra protection from blue light. The frame sizes start for toddlers (aged 2 – 4) up to adults.

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