Win or lose…in a blink of an eye

Win or lose…in a blink of an eye

Dr. Mitchell Jackson and Mario Nacinovich

Gamers run the gamut from occasional, to casual, to dedicated, competitive esports enthusiasts using a variety of devices: consoles, PCs, and mobile. Esports are competitive video games that anyone, including traditional athletes, plays for fun and in some cases for a living. Esports are becoming increasingly popular as global digital access becomes ubiquitous and the cost of cutting-edge gaming technology decreases.

Did you know that there are almost as many people viewing and streaming gamers as there are players themselves, collectively spending hours per day on multiple screens?

It is estimated that there are 3 billion gamers worldwide, with 214 million of these gamers are right here in the United States. This means that, worldwide, 6 billion eyes are at risk for digital eye strain or dry eye disease.

And I should know… not only am I an ophthalmologist and dry eye specialist, but I am also the father of two world-champion esports gamers. I see every day in my practice and in my own home the impact that gaming has on overall eye health. There is a huge unmet need for all gamers to better understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of digital eye strain or dry eye disease and, as importantly, take appropriate action to address tired or painful eyes. After all, in the blink of an eye, or more accurately, without the blink of an eye, a moment or two can be lost, which could be the difference between winning and losing whatever game you’re playing.

According to the American Optometric Association, Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain, describes a group of eye- and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone use. It is generally caused by glare and low screen contrast that force your eyes to work harder than usual. Because video games require constant use of screens and often encourage players to continue playing for extended periods, you may experience computer vision syndrome more often when gaming than during more normal use of your devices.

To further demonstrate the prevalence and impact of digital eye strain, even beyond gaming, according to The Vision Council, at least 60% of American men and 65 % of American women reported symptoms of digital eye strain.

The most common symptoms of eye strain include:

· Tired eyes

· Pain in eyeballs

· Pain in the eye sockets

· Blurred vision

· Headaches

· Occasional double vision

· Neck and shoulder stiffness

Another common symptom of eye strain is dry eyes, which is more than just a lack of moisture on the surface of your eyeball. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has identified some of the symptoms of dry eye:

· You feel like your eyes are stinging and burning

· Blurred vision, especially when reading (or gaming)

· There is a scratchy or gritty feeling like something is in your eye

· There are strings of mucus in or around your eyes

· Your eyes are red or irritated

· It is painful to wear contact lenses

· You have lots of tears in your eyes

Having a lot of tears in your eyes with dry eye might sound odd. But your eyes make more tears when they are irritated by dry eye.

So how can you address and manage video game-induced eye strain?

· Follow the 20–20–20 rule: Stop using your electronic screen device every 20 minutes by looking at something more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes adjust and not stay locked to your media

· Use proper lighting: Reduce glare, so don’t play in the dark or in extreme sunlight

· Limit, if you can, the number of hours you play games each day (3 or more hours can be excessive)

· EyeSafe technology: Utilize computers with built-in EyeSafe technology. Or use EyeSafe’s Invisible Shield for phones and EyeSafe Blue Light Screen filters for monitors

· Proper posture: Keep your screens at eye level to keep your eyes, shoulders, and neck relaxed.

· Bring your phone to your eyes, not your eyes to your phone. Don’t make your eyes work harder than they have to.

· Don’t game in the dark!

· Have the proper eye cleansing and lubricating products on hand

Perhaps most importantly,


Most of you probably have a daily skincare routine, hair care routine, and dental routine. Added to that should be a daily eye care routine. At a minimum, all gamers and those who are experiencing digital eye strain should incorporate daily cleansing and proper lubrication into their eyes.

Need access to the proper products?

Need reminders to do your morning and nightly routines or timely 20–20–20 exercises?

Looking for further education and/or access to dry eye experts for tips and best practices?

One company, MYZE, is setting out to do just that. Helping people understand what they may be feeling in their eyes and providing not just access to daily eye care routines but the inspiration, education, and incentive to stay compliant with their care plans For more information on MYZE, you can contact them at

For your eyes to be at their best in your pursuit of a winning match in the multiplayer online battle arena video game (MOBA), first-person shooter (FPS), combat, card, battle royale, and real-time strategy (RTS) games such as League of Legends, Smite Pro, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Valorant, Overwatch, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., and StarCraft, or if you are consistently captivated solving for Wordle on one device while achieving yet another high score on Candy Crush or finalizing a difficult Sudoku, they need to feel their best.

Heck, your eyes could use a best friend too. Don’t neglect them. Prioritize daily eye care, create a routine, and prioritize eye health.

Your eyes will thank you.

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