Answers to your vision concerns about kids and video games

With the holiday season in full effect, you can bet that many kids will be receiving a video game or a new system in the next few weeks. In fact, one million PlayStation 4 consoles were sold in North America in the first 24 hours of its recent launch. Sadly, I was not one of those lucky ones.

Since the dawn of the television age, parents have been wondering “How much is too much?” After home video games were introduced, the question became even more relevant. Below you will find some of the most common concerns parents have and how to address each issue.

  1. Will video games ruin my kid’s eyes? Certainly, overuse of the visual system, especially up close, can lead to eyestrain, fatigue, redness of the eyes, and eye rubbing, but it cannot be stated conclusively that video games will directly lead to permanent damage.
  2. How much time should I let my kids play video games? 20 minutes of game play followed by a break is plenty. As for how much cumulative time per day, you are the best judge – but at our house we have a maximum of one hour of screen time daily. Then again, I must be fairly conservative because a recent study stated that 85% of kids use an electronic device up to four hours a day.
  3. Are video games good for anything? Besides allowing you to have some fun with your kids, a recent study demonstrated that some video games can improve hand-eye coordination. Also, in young children who have parental participation, certain video games can improve literacy.

So, while allowing your child to play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty 24/7 may be a lousy idea, a small amount gaming with your child can be a good thing. Remember, about 60% of video game titles are rated “E” for everyone, so let’s have some fun!

~David Ardaya, OD

This original article by Golden Optometric optometrist David Ardaya has also been published by the California Optometric Association, where Dr Ardaya is a past president of the Orange County chapter.

Is One Pair of Eyeglasses Adequate for Your Lifestyle?

Hiking, running, tennis, work: We have specific shoes for each activity, why should our eyes be any different? Using the computer, working, driving and playing sports each call for their own eyeglasses. For instance, distance glasses are needed for driving, but when intense focus is required in activities like reading or needlepoint, reading glasses may be essential.

Computer glasses reduce eyestrain by focusing at the intermediate range (shorter than driving distance, but farther than reading distance). Occupational lenses are specially designed for work-related tasks, placing the reading segment higher in bifocals and trifocals. For driving, polarized lenses or an anti-reflective coating are essential to reduce glare. Sports and protective eyewear should have polycarbonate lenses for safety. Sports contact lenses are another option which give better peripheral vision, an unobstructed field of view and better compatibility with goggles or head gear.

Give your eyes the care they deserve; eyeglasses made to fit your lifestyle and specific visual needs are important in maintaining healthy eyes.