eye strain
Video Games

Eye Strain for Gamers: When is a Problem a Problem?

Screens dominate our waking hours in the digital age. This has resulted in rising concerns about eye strain, with leading screen manufacturers having already introduced new safety ratings for screens, akin to SPF ratings on sunscreen. This Eyesafe® Certified 2.0 status, with Lenovo leading the way in its adoption, was done in the hopes of reducing the risk of eye complications like age-related macular degeneration.

While eye strain is a broad concern, the gaming community faces unique challenges. Lenovo Vice President Stefan Engel explains that experienced users actively look for products that have protection against eye strain — but addressing this concern isn’t always straightforward. In this article, we explore the intricate relationship between eye strain and gaming.

A complex relationship between eye strain and gaming

During the past decade, vision problems associated with digital screens have evolved into a widespread public health issue. Coined as “Digital Eye Strain (DES),” this term encompasses various eyesight issues stemming from prolonged exposure to digital screens.

However, existing guidelines often overlook the unique challenges faced by gamers, particularly those grappling with internet addiction and gaming disorders, which have been listed as a distinct subcategory in the upcoming version of the World Health Organization’s classification of diseases, ICD-11. The prevalence of gaming-related vision issues has given birth to the term “videogame vision syndrome.” This proposed classification addresses vision problems arising from the extended use of screen-enabled devices for gaming, including issues related to prolonged near-term adaptation, such as difficulty in focusing and blurred vision at close range, and issues related to dry eye syndrome, such as burning sensations and photosensitivity.

The pervasiveness of these vision problems stems from various factors. This can be external, such as poor posture and prolonged physical immobilization in front of the screen. However, factors lending to vision problems can also stem from the gaming format itself. In today’s digital age, even subtitles, a seemingly basic feature in games, aren’t always formatted with visibility and accessibility in mind. This oversight not only hampers accessibility but also exacerbates eye strain issues. Recognizing this, the gaming industry must address these nuances to ensure an inclusive and eye-friendly gaming experience.

Innovations in combating eye strain

To address the rising concern related to eye strain among gamers, eyewear innovations have taken center stage. Eyewear retailers have introduced advanced solutions within the market for blue light glasses, such as the Eye Protect System™ lens, which offers daily protection and reduces reflections caused by blue-violet light filtering. In particular, the Crizal Prevencia coating, which filters 20% of blue-violet light, presents an accessible option for gamers seeking enhanced protection.

With various designs available, from sporty Oakley frames to luxurious Versace styles, blue light glasses have become a stylish and effective accessory. However, gamers who are not comfortable wearing spectacles can also take a different approach. Utilizing blue light filters on PCs has become a popular choice, allowing users to adjust their screen’s color temperature to minimize eye strain. As gamers spend extended hours in front of screens, these filters provide a practical solution for non-glasses wearers seeking relief from digital eye strain.

More importantly, the gaming industry itself is taking steps to make games more visually accessible. Fortune is Blind, a fully accessible binaural AR action-adventure game, is a testament to the dedication of developers in creating inclusive gaming experiences. Games like The Last of Us Part II and God of War Ragnarök lead the way in AAA blind accessibility, incorporating features such as combat assistance, sound cues, and navigation assistance. These innovations not only make games more accessible but also contribute to reducing eye strain by providing alternative means of interaction.

The relationship between eye strain and gaming is multifaceted, requiring a nuanced approach to address the unique challenges faced by gamers. In this evolving landscape, the gaming industry’s commitment to visual accessibility signifies a positive trajectory, ensuring that the future of gaming is not only immersive but also mindful of the well-being of its players.