Vision-related problems are common among professional gamers and esports players. Collectively, they’re known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. The American Optometric Association describes computer vision syndrome as a group of eye and vision-related issues that frequently arise due to prolonged use of tablets, computers, mobile phones, and other devices. And as the video game industry continues to boom, computer vision syndrome is becoming more prevalent.
Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms
Hours spent staring at a screen can cause this visual and ergonomic disorder termed computer vision syndrome. It encompasses a group of symptoms that primarily involve the eyes. If you’re an avid gamer or esports athlete, you likely have experienced some of these symptoms. They include:-
- Eye strain and fatigue
- Itchy, red, or dry eyes
- Excessively watery eyes
- Blurred or double vision
- Discomfort when using contact lens
- Headaches and sensitivity to light or glare
- Changes in your perception of colors
- Neck or shoulder pain 
These symptoms vary from person to person, and their severity would depend on how much time you spend looking at the screen.
Causes And Risk Factors
It is well understood that prolonged hours spent looking at the screen without sufficient breaks can lead to the symptoms associated with digital eye strain.
Esports players are more likely to get computer vision syndrome due to the extended hours spent on training and practice sessions. After all, it is not unusual for them to spend 3-10 hours daily in front of the screen .
Prolonged use of devices can lead to reduced eye movement and blinking, which may cause the eyes to dry out faster. The risk of getting computer vision syndrome is further increased if you have an existing eye condition. This includes longsightedness, shortsightedness, or astigmatism that hasn’t been addressed or corrected .
Other than that, the glare on the computer monitor and inappropriate viewing distances from the screen are some other contributors to vision-related problems. Poor seating posture can also lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain .
How Digital Eye Strain May Affect Your Esports Career
Most of the symptoms and discomfort associated with computer vision syndrome are only temporary. Hence, they’re unlikely to have a permanent effect on your training and gaming capabilities if treatment and preventative measures are in place.
Leaving this condition unresolved can lead to worsening visual acuity, which is the ability of your eyes to detect small details .
Having dry, strained, or itchy eyes may cause you to rub your eyes frequently. This can increase the risk of eyelid-related disorders such as blepharitis and styes. In severe cases, constant eye rubbing may even bring about keratoconus, which is the thinning and bulging of your cornea that can lead to blurred vision .
Finally, if left neglected, digital eye strain can give rise to poor sleep quality and insomnia due to excessive exposure to blue light .
It’s unlikely you’ll have to shelve your esports career due to computer vision syndrome. But these vision-associated issues may interfere with your gameplay performance and capabilities. When high visual focus and aiming accuracy are required, symptoms such as blurred vision or eye redness, discomfort, and dryness can affect how you play.
Computer Vision Syndrome Diagnosis
Your doctor can diagnose computer vision syndrome through a comprehensive eye examination and patient history-taking. They will look into any possible contributing factors and ask questions about your medical history, environment, and habits .
Other than gathering information about your symptoms and lifestyle, your doctor may also perform specific procedures that evaluate your visual acuity, eye health, and eye dryness .
Treatment and Prevention in Gamers
There are several ways you can treat and prevent the development of computer vision syndrome.
Correction of Eyesight Problems
Your healthcare professional may recommend using eyeglasses or digital glasses to enhance the clarity of the computer screen. Eyeglasses can be given to both young and older patients and may help improve overall comfort when using a screen .
Ergonomics and Environmental Factors
Ergonomics involves several aspects as follows:-
- Ensure computer chairs are well-padded and allow the feet to rest flat on the ground.
- The computer screen should ideally be 20-28 inches away from the eye.
- Use antiglare screen and filters.
- Position light sources in a way that reduces glare.
- Have the top line of your monitor’s screen positioned at or below your eye level.
- Try to avoid glare from outside sources or overhead lights.
- Keep monitors and screens dust-free .
Adequate Rest and Breaks
It’s easy to be completely engrossed in your training sessions, especially if your competition is just around the corner. Nonetheless, it’s best to give your eyes a short break every 20 to 30 minutes by looking at a distant object for at least 20 seconds. Having proper rest periods between gaming sessions will also reduce your risk of physical overuse injuries . It is recommended that you take a short break after 1-hour of computer usage . Move around, stretch, or go for a run between training sessions to loosen up.
Spending a lot of time plopped in front of the screen can lead to a host of problems. Computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, is one of the most common issues esports players face. Dry, red, itchy eyes and blurred vision are some symptoms associated with digital eye strain.
You need your eyes to game and perform well, so be sure to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect them.
Disclaimer: This is an educational post on managing computer vision syndrome as a gamer. It should not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. EsportsHeadlines.com and the author of this post disclaim any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, as it is not meant for diagnostic or treatment purposes.