By Steven Indelicato
As a kid, I always idolized NBA players, such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Horace Grant, who proudly donned their conspicuous Rec Specs sports goggles. Presumably, if fitted by a licensed optician, those “larger than life” spectacles included proper safety lenses. As we all know, catching an elbow in the paint without sufficient polycarbonate impact resistant lenses could land not only a trip to the foul line, but even the hospital.
Almost twenty years later, some of the most popular athletes today strain their eyes more than the muscles of athletes from that bygone era. This modern-day electronic sport (“e-sports”) athlete usually sits in front of a computer screen(s) for a length of time which typically runs well past your 9-5 eight-hour work shift. In fact, you often find him/her surrounded by screens of all sorts. Screens to interact with their audience as they broadcast live on streaming platforms, such as Mixer, Twitch or YouTube. Twitch alone has an average of 15 million daily viewers and the numbers just keep climbing. This audience sometimes runs well into the high teens or even twenty thousand viewer mark during one live gaming experience per streamer. Additionally, the e-sports athlete has screens which count the endless number of donations or subscribers they receive in one sitting, which provides its main source of income, in addition to sponsorships.
But, doing what exactly you might ask? Silly question. Doing what every kid wishes they can do growing up: playing video games! The most important screen that these “streamers” and gamers stare into endlessly does nothing more than facilitate video games. Video games such as Fortnite, Apex and League of Legends, just to name a few. Let’s get this straight: people stare into a screen, in which other people stare at a screen playing and engaging with, wait for it, other people staring at a screen. A sight for sore eyes, indeed, which calls for some serious eye protection! Well, just not in the old school, Rec Specs kind of way.
This long period of time staring at screens, as we are well aware, strains the eyes, overexposes us to harmful blue light, and can cause some serious damage down the road. Some of us like to refer to this as Computer Vision Syndrome, and most E-sports athletes are looking to help their tired, bloodshot and dry eyes after a long day’s work, usually well over 10 to 11 hours. The eye industry has taken notice.
One company, Gunnar, has stepped up and is looking to take over the E-sports gaming visual demand. They have sponsored many E-sports tournaments and players, promising to reduce and block blue light, and help eyes feel rejuvenated and refreshed, making gamers’ eyes last longer. Ironically, you cannot find these protective eyeglasses in your local optical shop, but, instead, on the shelves of BestBuy and GameStop (and maybe even virtually at Amazon!). Who would have thought?!
For us eye care professionals, it is important to educate both parents and future E-sports gamers alike. We are responsible for the health and well-being of our patients. There are plenty of blue light blocking coatings out there that we can recommend. For instance, Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia is a great coating, which helps filter blue-violet light. Also, DuraVision BlueProtect from ZEISS ensures comfortable vision in the presence of blue light. These coatings can be incorporated with most, if not all, lens materials. These two options will most certainly contribute to the visual needs of any E-sports athlete or gamer who should walk through the door.
The new E-sports phenomenon ensures that all eye care professionals need to educate and correctly dispense the proper tools needed to protect our patient’s eyes from the harm of computer screens and blue light. We must accurately treat digital eyestrain using the most innovative coatings, which block and filter blue light. Even if your child isn’t the next most watched E-sports gamer, consider protecting their vision no matter the cost! Because poor eyesight is far from a game worth playing!
Learn about the unique visual challenges facing us due to the dynamically connected modern lifestyle with our CE, SmartLife: The Evolution of Lens Design for Dynamic Connectivity, at 2020mag.com/ce. It’s free, courtesy of an educational grant from ZEISS.