Can TV Damage Your Eyesight?

Woman in front of computer, grimacing with headache

For as long as television has been around, people have been concerned about its affects on eyesight. If you get headaches or your eyes feel tired when you watch TV, these may be signs of nearsightedness or eye fatigue.

Myth vs Fact

In a January 27, 2010 issue of Scientific American, a group of ophthalmologists stated television “won’t cause any physical damage to your eyes.” That’s right, you may feel eye fatigue if you watch several hours of TV or if you sit very close to the screen, but no physical damage to your eyes or eyesight occurs. Eye fatigue and eyestrain are common after marathon TV sessions, but your eyes will bounce back after a night or two of quality sleep.

Eye Fatigue

When you focus your attention on a TV for long periods of time, you tend to blink less and your eyes get excessively dry. Combine this with not changing your focal point for many minutes or hours, and you’ll start to feel some serious eye fatigue. The feeling may be as simple as dry, uncomfortable eyes, or you may feel discomfort similar to a headache in and around your eyes. If this happens, the best medicine is a good night’s rest and an over the counter pain reliever.

Preventative Care

If your eyesight gets blurry or your eyes feel excessively tired while you watch TV, try moving your eyes around the room periodically and focus on other objects during commercials. The act of moving your eyes and focusing on near and far objects exercises your eyes and helps prevent fatigue. Remind yourself to blink frequently while you watch TV to lubricate the surface of your eyes.

Vision Checks

Kids who frequently sit close to the television may actually be nearsighted and should have their vision checked. The same principle is also true for adults. If you find yourself squinting and getting headaches while you watch TV, it may time to check in with your eye doctor. If you need glasses while driving, you should also wear them when watching television.

TV itself isn’t permanently damaging to your eyesight, but you may develop headaches and eye fatigue if you watch TV for long periods of time without moving. Remember to look around the room during commercials, blink often during movies, and get your eyes checked if you find yourself squinting or sitting too close to the screen. You’ll end up with a more comfortable TV viewing session.