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Minecraft & Your Child’s Eyes

minecraftMinecraft doesn’t come up in conversation every day at Bright Eyes Kids, but pretty close to it. I typically ask all my patients, young and old, what they do for fun and Minecraft is the first thing many kids say. And if you spend any time at a mall, school, or other place with kids, you will see lots of kids in Minecraft-themed t-shirts (but you might not get the jokes unless you have played it yourself.) And now Microsoft just bought the company that makes Minecraft for $2.5 Billion (with a B). Clearly they think someone is playing this game.

I don’t have a “love/hate” relationship with Minecraft. It is more of “respect/worry” relationship.

There are many reasons why I respect Minecraft. I have read the story of how Minecraft came to be, and I must say, it is pretty cool: one guy making a game that became a community, mostly by himself. Being a huge Lego fan, I like the simplicity of building with digital blocks. I love all of the amazingly creative projects that dedicated players build.
But I do worry about all the Minecrafters. We have long known that Computer Vision Syndrome can affect office workers who spend their day on the computer. But children who spend a lot of time at the computer can develop the same symptoms. Simple Google searches show that Minecraft fans complain of blurry vision, headache, eye strain and red eyes, and they worry that the game is harming their eyesight.

Check out the infographic at the bottom of the post. It shows that kids are using devices for both fun and schoolwork. Parents tend to underestimate how much time their children use devices. Some kids use devices a lot – 7 hours or more each. I am betting that they do not find their off-screen homework as compelling as games like Minecraft.

Take this scenario: Parents bring in a child for an eye examination because their child is having headaches and blurry vision that only started in the last few months. When I ask if anything changed in this time, they will mention that their child got an iPad and have been playing Minecraft and other games. The evaluation confirms that the child is now having eyestrain and focusing problems from excessive device use.

This is more common than you might expect. In a recent AOA survey 4 out of 5 (or 83%) of kids say they have tired or blurry eyes after device use. That is a huge number!

Here are some suggestions to keep children’s eyes comfortable while using a device:

  • Check in with them, so you know how they are doing. Kids often don’t realize they are having problems.
  • Have them take frequent breaks (follow the 20-20-20 rule)
  • Limit their overall scree time and make them get outside.
  • Make sure they hold the device at a safe distance (Elbow distance)
  • Keep even room lighting
  • Wear reading glasses, if prescribed
If you have concerns about your children’s eyes or have concerns about the effect that device use may be having on their eyes and vision, call us to book an appointment. We would be happy to see your children at either Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Westchase or the office just for children, Bright Eyes Kids in New Tampa.

DrNateSig

 

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6 responses to “Minecraft & Your Child’s Eyes”

  1. Crystal says:

    Hi im 15 years old and play minecraft usually only from 1-3pm sometime myb 9-3pm everyday im scared this could harm eye sight

    • brighteyes says:

      Well, it is always a good idea to take breaks from screentime and get plenty of outside time. You should have an exam by an eye doctor that can evaluate for eyestrain.

  2. alexis says:

    Hi i get headache and im 8 will i go blind?

    • brighteyes says:

      Alexis,

      There are many reasons why people get headaches and very few of them can cause you to go blind. But headaches can be a sign of other problems. Talk with your parents and they can take you to a doctor. And if the headaches come from video use or reading, be sure to cut back!

      -Dr. Nate

  3. Juliack Leonardo says:

    Breaks with Minecraft are a definite must, especially for kids. I’ve had sessions where I played Minecraft for 4+ hours straight, and when I finally managed to break away, I found my vision was all blurry and messed up. It was only temporary but it was still concerning!

  4. Mia Robbins says:

    My son has started playing Minecraft again after a long break of several months and immediately I have noticed he is blinking incessantly. While he is only allowed to play at the weekends, I have noticed this change as other games don’t seem to affect him. Could it have something to do with the graphics on Minecraft? He is 12. Many thanks!

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