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March 31, 2023

Gaming & Your Child’s Vision

Kid's vision & screen usage


Video games can be a fun way for your child to pass time in a creative and engaging way. They can help boost a child’s hand-eye coordination, and mental dexterity and increase social skills, but like anything, they should be enjoyed in moderation. Too much gaming can have negative effects on your child, especially when it comes to their eyes.

The average child between the ages of 8-12 spends an average of 4-6 hours a day using screens. By the time they’re teenagers, that number balloons to 9 hours per day. With so much time spent staring at a screen, it’s no surprise that children were 1.4 to 3 times more likely to experience myopia progression, also known as nearsightedness, during the pandemic of 2020.

With everything going virtual, including learning, video games aren’t the main cause of eye problems in kids, but they certainly contribute.

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How does gaming affect your child's vision?

People blink 66% less while working on digital screens, which causes eye irritation and increased straining, as the eyes aren’t being replenished with necessary oxygen. With 81% of Generation Z playing video games on a regular basis, that’s a lot of missed blinks!

Here’s how your child’s eyes are affected:

1-2 hours: Most experts agree that children should limit their screen time to 1-2 hours per day. This moderate level of gaming shouldn’t cause much eye strain and allows for other healthy activities like sleep and exercise.

2-4 hours: Most adults can comfortably play 2-4 hours of video games a day with minimal eye strain. Children, however, will likely begin to experience some eye strain at this point.

4+ hours: Past the four-hour mark, both children and adults will likely begin to notice some eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches. A lack of blinking and prolonged focus will cause the eye muscles to get tired and irritated.

What are the eye & vision symptoms of gaming too much?

Dry, itchy eyes: Blinking is essential to keep your eyes hydrated throughout the day. Prolonged periods of reduced blinking can cause the eyes to become red, irritated, and itchy.

Eye strain and squinting: As we focus on one stimulus for an extended period of time, our eye muscles can get worn out and weakened, forcing us to squint in order to regain focus. Squinting is a tell-tale sign of eye strain. If you notice your child squinting, it’s a good sign that it’s time to put down the video games and go outside.

Headaches: Eye strain and irritation will ultimately lead to headaches when left untreated. If your child is suffering from constant headaches, it could be a sign of too much screen time.

Myopia: Another word for nearsightedness, myopia is a problem with visual focusing that occurs when your eyes begin to “over-focus” on a screen. When this happens, it might take some time to readjust to long-distance viewing.

What is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)?

Computer Vision Syndrome is caused by the high visual demands of staring at a computer screen for long periods of time. Often the images on a computer or television screen are obscured by glare or reflections, making them harder to focus on. Viewing distance, posture, and screen brightness can all be adjusted to mitigate symptoms.

How to Protect Your Kid's Eyes

What steps can you take to protect your child's eyes from overexposure to screens?

Schedule a children's eye exam at Wisconsin Vision today.

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