Overall, almost 3 million Americans are believed to have low vision – suggesting that there’s an eye ill-health problem sweeping the country. But some groups are more vulnerable to eye problems than others – and those who look at screens all day long are perhaps some of the worst affected. Working at a computer in an office can be one cause of eye ill health while playing computer games a lot can be another.
If you’re a gamer, you’re not only spending time looking at either a television or a computer screen, you’re also concentrating hard in your attempt to win. You’re also likely to be doing this in a confined and possibly overly dark space. With that in mind, this article will explain why eye health is particularly important to gamers – and what you can do to ensure that you’re not vulnerable.
Is it real?
First off, whether or not there is a risk of your eyes becoming damaged as a direct result of gaming is something that has been debated vigorously in the past. As is the case with many aspects of modern life, gaming is the sort of activity that can cause health problems – but doesn’t necessarily. Some gamers may find they never develop eye issues, while others do.
Some people have found themselves with a problem known colloquially as Gamer Eye Syndrome. Usually, the main symptoms of this problem include dry or red eyes, as well as serious irritation. It’s worth pointing out, however, that it’s not just those who play games who can end up experiencing these symptoms – and gamers may, in fact, be getting something of an unfair focus! The technical term for the condition is “Computer Vision Syndrome”, and it can affect anyone who regularly looks at a screen – including office workers.
Risk of complications
At first, “gamer eye” may manifest itself simply in the form of redness or minor irritation – which, while it can be unpleasant, isn’t necessarily enough of a problem to warrant taking significant action. But as with many long-running medical conditions, this is something that can lead to complications arising in the future – and by then it may be too late to completely halt the trend.
Take the example of eye strain. As a gamer, you’re likely to use your eyes to make the same visual journey over and over again: perhaps your avatar is following the same path in a difficult level that you’re repeatedly trying to crack, or maybe the rubric of your chosen game is such that it requires you to create certain shapes or paths over and over, and in a detailed way. Over time, this repetition of the same movements can lead to defective vision, and you may find yourself at a higher risk of eye problems in later life.
That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that it’s possible to take action to rectify the issue. Take the example of glaucoma. Experts including Dr. Rohit Varma have spent recent years attempting to find solutions to these problems, and they are largely succeeding. The first way to take action, though, is to monitor your symptoms to ensure you catch any conditions early: if you experience symptoms such as tunnel vision or a slowly decreasing peripheral vision, open-angle glaucoma may be something to think about. Or if you find that you become particularly sensitive to light, say, cataracts may be an issue you’ll need to consider.
Another way to tackle the problem is to look at the root cause. If you have your screen too far away from you (or, indeed, too close), your eyes may strain more – leading to the problems outlined above. If your gaming area is particularly badly lit, your eyes may be making an extra effort to see the screen, without you even realizing it. Making an honest, informed assessment of how your gaming environment is set up could mean the difference between an eye health condition appearing or not, so it’s well worth doing. Ultimately, being knowledgeable about the roots of different eye conditions and then approaching a registered optician as soon as any problems occur is a good rule to follow, as it reduces the occupational hazard of being a gamer.
If you’re a gamer, studies show that you may well be more at risk of developing eye problems, given that you probably spend a large amount of your time looking at a screen. But statistics also reveal that you could be at a higher risk of developing eye health conditions – and with a range of possible illnesses to think about, it’s important to take time out to think about your health and to educate yourself about the symptoms. That way, you’ll be able to take swift action if you notice a problem.