Screen Time and Eye Health: AOA partners with the gaming industry on awareness efforts
ST. LOUIS – The American Optometric Association has partnered with the gaming industry to create the Screen Time Alliance to raise awareness of the effects of prolonged digital device use on eye health.
With the rise of online and app-based vision services, AOA’s “Eye Deserve More” public awareness campaign “states that every American deserves comprehensive personal eye care from an optometrist as part of their eye health and overall wellness.” to a press release from the organization.
The Screen Time Alliance focuses on the rise in screen time – especially among gamers – and shows how gamers, streamers and scrollers can keep their eyes healthy.
There are more than 227 million Americans who play video games, and as gaming and screen time increases, so does the risk of long-term effects on people’s eye health. The results of AOA’s Gamer Survey 2022 showed that the average gamer spends more than 8 hours a day in front of screens and has experienced various eye-related symptoms from gaming, including eye strain, headaches, dry eyes and blurred vision. Many gamers are aware of the effects on eye health of long-term screen use, but less than half (46%) visit a doctor for a comprehensive eye exam each year.
The Screen Time Alliance is a collaboration between a professional eye health association and gaming industry companies to educate gamers and all screen time users on the importance of healthy screen time. Current Alliance members include Nerd Street Gamers, a national network of esports facilities, events and content, and Playcrafting, a game development company. The goal of the alliance is to encourage people to have their eyes checked offline by an ophthalmologist so they can do more of what they love online. Additionally, the AOA has developed the Eye Health Guidance for Screen Time to provide gamers with actionable steps to customize and optimize gaming experiences to improve their eye and overall health.
“Founding the Screen Time Alliance is an important collaboration for us because the majority of Americans spend a lot of time in front of screens and playing video games,” he says James P. DeVleming, OD, AOA President. “While there are many things we can do on our screens, a full eye exam is not one of them. Through in-person exams, optometrists play an important role in a person’s overall well-being by being able to detect vision and eye health issues, as well as early signs of systemic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. ”
As part of this year’s campaign, AOA is partnering with Jordan Fischeran actor, singer, songwriter, producer, gamer and parent to educate fellow gamers and parents on the importance of taking care of their eye health and encouraging them to practice healthier screen time habits.
“Having injured my cornea years ago, I didn’t realize how it would affect the rest of my body. Given the amount of time I spend in front of screens — about 7 hours a day reading, producing, gaming, or taking video conference calls — it’s important to practice healthy screen time habits, as it can really put a strain on your eyes,” says Fisher. “This is why an in-person eye exam is so important, because optometrists can see beyond your eyes and into your entire body. I make eye health a priority for me and my family so we don’t miss important moments in life.”
Optometrists like Dr. Jason Compton, an AOA member and a gamer himself, says some patients may not make a connection between screens and their symptoms, such as dry eyes and headaches.
“My job as an optometrist is to learn my patients’ habits and behaviors in order to tailor recommendations to keep their eyes and entire body healthy, given that comprehensive eye health is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Dr Compton. “Whether you’re a pro gamer, Twitch streamer, casual scroller, or someone who works on a computer all day, it’s important to see an eye doctor in person every year and adopt healthy gaming and screen-time habits, such as drinking water. B. Regularly taking screen breaks and stopping all gaming activities at least an hour before bedtime.”
To find eye health guidance for screen time and to schedule an appointment with a local AOA doctor for optometry, visit AOA.org/EyeDeserveMore.