Does Sitting Too Close to the TV or Playing Too Many Video Games Hurt Eyes?

“Don’t sit so close to the TV! You’ll ruin your eyes!” Many of us have grown up hearing that line, whether we were enthralled by a certain program or intensely trying to beat a video game level. For the most part, you may not have questioned this, sat back, and kept it in the back of your mind. But is it really true?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “sitting too close to a TV will not damage your eyes but it may case eyestrain.” This behavior is typically observed more with children than adults because children are able to focus at a closer distance without getting eyestrain, so while it looks uncomfortable to be reading with something very close to their face, or watching TV closely, they may not be having any problems at all. However, as they grow, this habit should diminish.

While this behavior will not cause any permanent damage, eyestrain can still cause discomfort. The Mayo Clinic states that you may experience sore, tired, burning or itching eyes, watery or dry eyes, blurred or double vision, headache, sore neck, shoulders or back, increased light sensitivity, difficulty concentrating, or feeling that you cannot keep your eyes open. These symptoms can usually be relieved by simply giving your eyes a break from the screen. However, if your eyes do not seem to be getting any better, visit your eye doctor as it could be caused by a different underlying condition.

Of course, always remember that physical activity should come before sedentary activities, such as watching TV or playing video games. While these don’t need to be completely removed from your life, moderation and balance are important to a healthy lifestyle.