Follow This Advice and Your Eyes Will Thank You
Last night I was playing with the squad, minding my own business. At some point, I felt this strange sensation of discomfort. I shook it off like a boss. But I kept blinking. I ignored it again and queued for another Apex Legends match. The nagging headache and dry eyes that came a few hours later meant simply “game over”. It became clear to me at that point that I’d fallen victim to an infamous foe. It’s a condition prevalent to gamers everywhere, the dreaded “eye strain”.
Our eyes are our most valuable gaming assets. Sadly, we take them for granted. We are aware of the load and stress our eyes sustain during play. We choose to ignore it. Honestly, are you willing to reduce your playtime to just a couple of hours a day?
According to The American Optometric Association, the longer we spend staring at our computer screens, the more severe the symptoms are. That is why protecting our eyes and living the healthy gamer lifestyle is crucial.
What Is Eye Strain?
Eye strain is a common condition caused by your eyes getting exhausted from excessive use. Examples of such use include driving long distances or staring at your computer screens and other digital devices.
What Are The Symptoms?
There are tell-tale signs that you might be suffering from eye strain, such as:
- Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Soreness in neck, shoulders or back
- Sensitivity to light
- Hard time concentrating
- Struggling to keep your eyes open
Ways To Prevent Eye Strain
Good thing you don’t need to suffer in silence. Here are some tips that you can follow to alleviate the symptoms, and fight off eye strain for good.
1. Improve Lighting Conditions
It is common knowledge that playing in poor lighting is dangerous to our eyes. Hardcore gamers often experience eye strain related headache from playing in dark premises.
Know that, if the light is too bright, you strain and squint at the screen. If the light is too dark, then your eyes will be forced to work harder.
So how can we fix this? The first step is to survey your lighting situation. Make sure to keep the game room evenly lit to prevent screen glare.
You can use blinds, shades, and window coverings to control the amount of light during the daytime. You should also avoid fluorescent lights. As a substitute, opt for dimmable LED lights instead.
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Creating lighting contrast with your monitor, by directing lights at different intensities in multiple directions, will also soften the strain. You can do this by placing a light source behind your monitor – a lamp or some LED strips.
2. Take Breaks From Your ‘Screen Time’
I know how focused you can be when things get heated up for your squad; concentration is also required while simply roaming around in Red Dead Redemption 2.
You could still keep your mind occupied with the game, but understand that countermeasures against eye fatigue are necessary. Looking away from the screen for a brief moment or two will alleviate eye strain.
Do this occasionally by focusing on an object at a distance. It will relax your eyes. For example, if you play multiplayer games, look away from the screen between matches. If you are playing a single player campaign, do this exercise during loading screens, or after every mission.
Remember, these few moments will benefit your overall eye health in the long run. Steal some time if you must; your eyes will appreciate the effort. Another tip is to install a piece of furniture or some random object that you can focus on during these breaks. Pick calming and soothing colors, such as light blue or green. Salmon pink is also a good choice for stress-relief effect.
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3. Use Gaming Glasses
Want to go the extra mile? Then wear some protective gear. For someone spending a lot of time gaming, investing in gaming glasses is a good call.
A lot of professional gamers such as League of Legends players Dyrus, Meteos, and Wildturtle wear protective glasses. These glasses help in filtering out the blue wavelengths released by monitors. They also reduce the amount of glare from the screen; treat them as your first line of defense.
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4. Eye drops to the rescue!
We can take all the extra safety measures, and eye irritation is still possible to happen. To be on the safe side, make sure that you keep some eye drops stashed at hand.
These drops alleviate symptoms of dryness caused by eye strain. There are over-the-counter eye drops that can be particularly helpful in such situations.
Taking eye vitamins is helpful too. However, make sure to go and see a doctor first before taking any medical supplements. Handle this with utmost care.
5. Don’t Neglect Eye Exercise
Sometimes when we are already “on-shift”, and our MMORPG grinds are on, there is no going back. I understand the struggle. There’s always a good excuse for some exercises the eyes will benefit from. The exercises may look silly at first, but your eyes will thank you; keep in mind that the long term objective is a better gaming experience and eye health.
These activities will improve the strength of your eyes and will help fight eye strain. See the below steps to up your “prevention” game:
- Look at a distance and imagine tracing a figure 8. It can strengthen eye muscles and increase flexibility. Repeat 5 times.
- Next step is focus switching. Do this by holding out your arm with your fist in a thumbs-up position. Relax and control your breathing. Extend one arm with a loose fist, with the thumb pointing up. Try to focus on your thumb.
- While keeping your eyes on at your thumb, slowly move it toward your nose until you can’t focus on it anymore.
- Pause for five relaxing breaths. Then return the arm to its original outstretched position, while focusing on the thumb. Repeat up to 10 times.
Another exercise that you can do is palming. Follow these steps to get the best results:
- Cup your hands over your eyes while your elbows are either located on a desk or placed on your knees.
- While in this position, focus on your breathing for several minutes. Thus you will allow your eyes to take a relaxing break.
6. Invest In A Quality Monitor
Aside from the steps mentioned above, there is one crucial thing that we tend to overlook.
Often we are not sure what to look for in a good gaming monitor. We miss important points or take wrong turns in the selection process. While most players usually focus on browsing for monitors with the lowest input lag or the best budget ones, they often seem to forget that getting the most ‘eye-friendly’ is just as important.
Top quality 1440p monitors are great for immersive gaming, and there are certain brands such as BenQ and Asus that offer panels with eye-care display options and IPS displays. These models emit less harmful blue light to your eyes and are designed to prevent future harm. Aside from the eye health benefits, you will also enjoy better picture quality and have a more satisfying experience.
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7. Get A Comprehensive Eye Exam
Prevention is the best cure.
Say, you followed all the above steps. Getting professional help should still be your topmost priority. The optimum way for you to prevent and treat vision impairments is to see an eye doctor regularly. If you have an active digital lifestyle, then it is a must to have your comprehensive checkups. Visiting your healthcare professional once every six months may stop hidden problems from progressing, and will result in better eye wellness.
Eye strain is annoying and will significantly affect your gaming performance. It is undeniably detrimental to your overall eye health. Making time and investing in eye care is of particular importance to us, gamers. We only have a pair of these amazing peepers, so we better take good care of them. After all, what would you rather have – ice cream or eye scream?