Improve Your E-Gaming Skills

Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many have been spending more of their lives online. Several video game sites have had surges in traffic, as have sites that let you watch other people play. Twitch, the leading site for streaming game play, has had traffic shoot up 20 percent.1

Whether you play video games for recreation or you are a professional e-athlete, you are looking to improve your performance and gain a competitive edge over your opponent.   

Research suggests that playing video games has numerous benefits, such as improved eye-hand coordination, enhanced cognitive skills, and various visual skills, such as the ability to track several objects at the same time and pay attention to a series of fast-moving events.

A growing body of evidence confirms that visual abilities can be strengthened and enhanced by means of appropriate visual training.  Optometrists with expertise in sports vision assessment and training, can work with you to improve visual function, leading to better gaming performance.  And, there are also some simple internal and external factors you can address at home:

Internal Factors

Blink more often - Scientists have shown that the average person blinks 15-20 times per minute. That’s up to 1,200 times per hour and 28,800 times a day! Blinking is necessary to clean and moisturize our eyes. When gaming or on computers or tablets for long periods of time, we may not blink as often or not complete our blinks, resulting in dryness and irritated eyes. (Note: Partial blinking is very common in people with dry eyes).  For some contact lens wearers, long non-blinking phases may cause the surface of their contact lenses to dry out, which can lead to discomfort and a loss of visual clarity.  Try to make a conscious effort to blink more often during high focus activities.

20-20-20 Rule - The rule says that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, a person should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This can be tricky for gamers, especially ones who play online and cannot afford to look away for even a moment or pause the game .  So, try to look away from the screen while the game is loading or close your eyes until the game starts. The clearer and crisper your vision is the better you will see your targets in the game.


External Factors

Studies have found that the majority of people who work or play at a computer experience some eye or vision problems and that the level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of computer use. Eye stress and strain may be caused by a combination of individual visual problems, improper viewing habits, and poor environmental conditions, such as glare, improper workstation set up, dirty screens, poor lighting and viewing angles.

The good news is that many potential eye and/or vision problems can be reduced or eliminated by appropriate adjustment and placement of computer monitors, lighting control, good preventive vision care habits, and regular professional eye care.

Here are a few things you can do:

Keep your distance:  - If you can touch the screen when you sit back in your chair the monitor is too close.  A good rule of thumb is to use the “Three Times Rule.” With your monitor on and showing a typical work or game you use every day, move back from the screen until it just starts to become blurred and stop.  Measure this distance and divide by three. Your monitor should be placed at that distance. This would be an ideal working/playing distance. While playing on a PlayStation, Xbox or Wii try to be at least 6 feet away.

Beat the glare - Is your monitor or TV Screen facing a window, to the side of a window, or is the window directly behind you?

The glare coming in from windows can cause considerable eyestrain for computer users.  No matter where your monitor/screen is relative to a window, adjustable shades, curtains or blinds should be used to effectively control light levels throughout the day.  While working at a computer, avoid facing an un-shaded window since the difference in brightness between the screen and the area behind it may cause eye stress and discomfort.  If an un-shaded window is in back of you, you may see annoying shadows on your computer screen. If your computer is parallel to a window and you are experiencing glare, consider using an anti-glare screen to reduce reflections.   There are computer filters that can be applied or you can simply adjust in your settings the brightness of the screen from a bright white to a cooler gray. Also, make sure to dust and wipe the screen to help combat glare

Adjust your screen - Ideal monitor placement is dependent on several factors including an individual’s physical make-up and visual capabilities, work tasks, and other workstation design elements. For maximum eye comfort the center of the computer screen should be five to nine inches below your eye level. You should be looking just over the top of the monitor in your straight-ahead gaze.  Never tilt the monitor and the screen should be 15 degrees below eye level. While playing on a PlayStation, Xbox or Wii one needs to be at least 6 feet away.

Check your screen background - At times visual clarity is affected by the imbalance between the screen background and the surrounding lighting. If your screen background is black or dark, dim the lights down to about one-third of what you would consider normal for an office. If dimming the lights is not possible then try turning them off and using a low wattage desk lamp positioned so the light does not directly enter the eyes or illuminate the computer screen. If your screen background is white or light, then use brighter room lighting.  If overhead lighting is too bright and you cannot adjust it, then wear a visor to shield your eyes. The key is to make sure the brightness is balanced between the display and the surrounding illumination. 


ISVA wishes to thank Vitto Mena Jr., OD, MS for his assistance in reviewing this section 

  1. Koeze E, Popper N, The Virus Changes The Way we Internet, New York Times, April 7, 2020