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How to Reduce Eye Strain While Playing Video Games

For some of us, playing video games is our favorite hobby. Gaming is embraced by billions of people across all ages, and perhaps you're one of them. All great games have two things in common: they are immersive and interactive. It feels fantastic to be 100% involved in a game and experience the excitement of taking on various achievements. We can play for hours on end, stopping just before you see the sun rising again.

While playing video games is extremely fun, it can also harm your eyesight. Eye strain is exactly what it sounds like. This condition happens after long hours of rigorous activity for the muscles in and around your eyes. For gamers, it occurs after staring at screens and playing for a long time in a poorly lit environment, with overly harsh fluorescents or overly dim lighting.

Thus, eye strain is a constant struggle for most gamers, and you may often have to choose between enjoyment and comfort. But it doesn't have to be like this. There are ways you can reduce eye strain while playing video games just by changing a few things. In this article, we'll walk you through what eye strain is and how it occurs. We would also like to share tips you can follow to reduce eye strain while enjoying video games.

Ready to get started?


What is eye strain? How does it relate to gaming?

Eye strain is actually a kind of muscle fatigue. All eye movements and significant functions, like focus and direction, are controlled by muscles around the eyes. For gamers, in most cases, eye strain is a kind of "sports injury" caused by muscle overuse while staring at the screen frequently in dim light. Video games can create vision problems if played too often. Thus, after a strenuous workout, eye muscles become overly tight, just like any other muscle.

Can video games cause permanent eye damage?

Research has shown that prolonged gaming without significant breaks can cause eye focus issues. In general, playing video games does not lead to permanent eye damage. However, it can cause other problems. In some cases, visual issues may worsen if not diagnosed and corrected in time by an eye doctor.

A gamer’s eye strain symptom: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)

If you use your screen a lot, you might also experience specific eye problems. Children and adults can have issues reading what's on a computer or screen.

Individuals who have eye strain may experience the following:

• Red eyes and dry eyes

• Blurred vision

• Headaches and fatigue

• Concentration difficulties

• Sensitivity to light

• Interrupted sleep

Gaming and digital eye strain: more than just overuse

Stressing our eyes for too long is undoubtedly one of the most significant causes of eye strain. However, eye strain shouldn’t only be attributed to the length of time you use your eyes intensely, but also to how you use them, which has a significant effect. For example, when we look at a blurry image (e.g., staring at a fast-moving object or reading under insufficient lighting), we place more stress than usual on our eyes because they need to struggle to stay focused.

Potential causes of these symptoms include:

• Glare from a digital screen

• Poor lighting in the room

• Blinking less than normal

• Improper viewing distance

• Blue light exposure

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of CVS, playing games for a long time without taking a break might make you suffer even more. Playing on dim screens, sitting too close to the screen, or hunching over while gaming could also worsen matters.


How can you prevent video game eye strain?

If your eyes hurt and feel sticky, it's probably because of tiredness. You should deal with these symptoms, or they may hamper your working efficiency or gaming abilities. It's essential to take care of your eyes and prevent discomfort to ensure you stay at the top of your game.

There are many preventative measures you can take to avoid video game eye strain. You can follow several tips to improve your viewing habits and reduce vision damage from video games, including:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule
  • Avoid screen reflection and glare
  • Balance ambient light
  • Mind screen brightness level
  • Adjust the color temperature of your monitor light bar
  • Control your screen time
  • Use low blue light filter technology
  • Adjust your screen settings

Follow the 20-20-20 rule

The most important thing you can do is to stop staring at your screen every 20 minutes and look at something more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It's helpful to remember the "20-20-20" rule (for the metric system, it can be changed to the "20-6-20" rule). Simply put, each time you use your eyes intensely for 20 minutes, stop and stare at an object about 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds. This could help relax eye muscles and prevent eye strain caused by looking at the screen for too long.

Avoid screen reflection and glare

Screen reflection and glare cause eye strain and other eye damage over time. Especially when we need intense and sufficient screen brightness while playing video games, screen glare creates more severe eye strain symptoms. To avoid screen reflection and glare, you can start by choosing desk lamps that don't create screen reflection and glare. A monitor light bar is a good choice because its unique asymmetrical optical design only illuminates the desk and ensures zero reflective glare off the screen.

Balance ambient light

Ambient lighting and screen brightness are closely related to eye strain. When the brightness difference between the monitor and the environment becomes large, eye strain symptoms may occur and harm your eyes. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) proposed the classic "1:3:10 Rule", mentioning that we should maintain a brightness ratio between the monitor and the environment within 1:3 or 3:1. On the other hand, the brightness ratio between the adjacent working area and the overall environment should be within 1:10 or 10:1.

A very practical accessory, the monitor light bar becomes handy for achieving this goal. It helps reduce eye strain and at the same time balances screen brightness and ambient light to ensure that we have the best conditions while playing video games.

Mind screen brightness level

Besides adequate illumination, you should pay attention to the brightness level within your field of vision, especially when a screen is the focus of your work. If the brightness of the screen is greater than that of the surrounding environment, eye strain is likely to occur. It's then necessary to reduce screen brightness or add light to the surrounding environment using lamps designed for screen reading.

In addition to screen brightness, the quality and level of ambient light are also important. Everything on our office desk should be properly lit up, with a recommended illumination of 500 lux, which is optimal for human eyes. With a monitor light bar, objects on the office desk can be illuminated entirely because of its wider light range compared to traditional desk lamps. Also, a monitor light bar does not take up extra space on your office desk or block line of sight to the monitor.

Adjust the color temperature of your monitor light bar

Apart from screen brightness and ambient light, the color temperature of the desk lamp or monitor light bar is also key to relieving your eye strain during gaming. The higher the color temperature is (that is, the overall color is closer to cold tones), the easier it is for people to concentrate since the blue spectrum suppresses the secretion of melatonin in the brain, which makes people sleepy. On the other hand, a lower color temperature (warm tones) helps people relax.

Based on this, it is recommended to use a light with a higher color temperature during the day and switch to a lamp with a lower color temperature during gaming at night, which helps maintain optimal secretion of melatonin. Adjustable color temperature is also one of the essential features supported by good monitor light bars, and it enables you to reduce eye strain and maintain a good gaming experience.

Use low blue light filter technology

As our eyes can’t naturally handle blue light very well, it can have damaging effects on the tissue and cells in our eyes. Blue light can also affect our brains, possibly much more than we know. While none of these are likely to be severe, they may cause discomfort.

Currently, there's no way to totally eliminate blue light emissions, but filtering technology has been around for a while. Just like blue light blocking glasses, manufacturers can apply screen layers that reduce or block short wavelength blue light without compromising image quality.

Of course, those layers require additional precision processes and a longer production cycle, so you're not going to get them with cheap monitors but rather with brands that pay attention to user health and comfort. 

Control your screen time

Even if you have ideal working conditions at your office desk, you should still limit the amount of time you spend on electronic devices. Make sure to take regular breaks and use eye drops if you're watching your screen for a long time. You should also follow these steps after every 40-50 minutes of usage. As long as you keep your work area well-lit and develop good habits, getting rid of eye strain and living a healthier life are possible.

Adjust your screen settings

According to experts, most people feel most comfortable looking at computer screens at about 15-20 degrees below their eye level. To further avoid digital eye strain, you can make text size larger and change the brightness of your screen. Typically, text should be three times bigger than the smallest size you can read from your current viewing position. Bigger fonts, to some extent, are always better for your eyes.

Friendly Notice: 16px is the best font size for your eyes when it comes to a mobile website.

Is there another way to get the best gaming experience while avoiding eye strain?

At this point, you already know ways to avoid eye strain while gaming. Dim lights, fluorescent lights, or RGB lights could harm your eyes. You can use the best LED gaming lamp that levels up your gaming experience to fully enjoy gaming.


Our recommendations: BenQ monitor light bar levels up your gaming experience!

BenQ's ScreenBar is a monitor light bar with 15 brightness levels and 8 color temperatures, providing optimal lighting to help you relax and focus. Its auto and manual light settings offer plenty of options to adjust the light you use while gaming, according to different situations. BenQ ScreenBar attaches to the top of your monitor, which saves space and declutters your gaming station while looking stylish and aesthetically pleasing. Above all, the best features are its eye-protecting technology and hue adjustment, which help you stay immersed and relieve eye strain simultaneously.

Grab one now and improve your gaming experience with BenQ!

Flicker-free Eye strain Game room Monitor Light Bar

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