There are many worries surrounding kids spending a lot of time playing video games. One of these worries concerns the effect that staring at a screen can have on the eyes of the child. This worry is not ill-founded as many studies have indicated that playing video games for extended amounts of time can cause children to develop symptoms similar to the adult computer vision syndrome. These symptoms will include, headaches and blurry vision in addition to fatigue and eye discomfort. If you notice your child complaining of any of these symptoms, then you should take them for an eye exam with your child’s optometrist as soon as possible.

 

Common Problems

Issues with Focusing

The eyes will focus differently when looking at a screen then when looking at a flat surface such as a notebook. When printed material is involved, the brain understands what it is looking at and therefore is able to calculate the optimal focusing distance. However, when looking at a computer screen or television screen, the eyes constantly need to change focus to account for the constant change in the depth of the image. This constant focusing and refocusing makes the eyes extremely tired and can also cause the eyes to become locked in on the screen. When eyes become locked in in this way it can be extremely difficult to focus on other objects even a significant time after the video game has been switched off.

Eye Irritation

When kids are completely absorbed in a videogame, you will likely find that they blink a lot less than they would if they were reading a book or drawing. This reduction in the amount of blinking can create irritation in the eyes, as the eyes will become dry and itchy. This reduced blinking can also have a significant and detrimental effect on tear flow.

 

What Can You Do to Avoid These Problems?

It may seem like a Herculean task to drag your child away from their favourite video game. However, if you want to ensure the safety of their eyes, then this is exactly what you need to do. You should attempt to get your child to take frequent breaks from the game in order to give their eyes a rest. For example, let them play uninterrupted for half an hour and then make them have a five minute break away from the screen. You can also make sure that your child is sitting at least six feet away from the screen.

Speak with your child’s optometrist for more tips about protecting eye health.

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