Will playing video games ruin my eyes?

Q. I am a 10 year old boy that got a lot of video games for Christmas.  My mom says that playing them all of the time will ruin my eyes.  Is this true?

A.  It sounds like you enjoy playing your gaming systems and I am certain you are spending copious amounts of time playing them (which might be annoying your mom).  In terms of the effect of video games on the eyes, it varies with how long you play it and how close you hold it.

Playing video games will not create a prescription…it will not make you farsighted, nearsighted or create astigmatism.  It can create dry eyes because long periods of staring at the screen with reduced blinks (because you are concentrating so hard on getting to the next level) can be an issue.  Holding the game too close to your eyes can create focusing problems which can lead to blurring of vision and/or headaches.

Taking breaks from playing the game every 20 minutes and looking away at a distance to refocus helps.  Also, keep yourself hydrated by drinking water instead of soda pop or sugared drinks.  This helps to keep the moisture levels up in your tear film.

Gaming systems have some good effects on the eyes…they help with visual-motor integration and spatial resolution.  This helps with processing of information (reading) and hand-eye coordination (writing/sports).

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Dr. Patricia Fink

OPTOMETRIST

Millcroft Shopping Centre
2080 Appleby Line, Unit E6
Burlington, Ontario, L7L6M6
Tel: (905) 319-1066