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Can You Hurt Your Eyes Sitting Too Close to a TV?

Q. You just wrote an article saying you should sit as close as three feet to a 4K TV. Three feet?! Couldn’t it damage your eyes if you sat that close to the screen? I would never let my kid sit that close! — Shelley, Detroit.

Shelley, you are referring to my article, ‘4K TV: How Far Away Should You Sit?‘ In the article, I note that Sony says you should sit roughly three feet from a 55-inch 4K TV. and just four feet away from a 65-inch model.

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The reasoning is that the 4K TV offers four times the resolution of a typical High-Definition TV. To really appreciate the extra pixels on screen, you need to sit closer to the screen than you normally would. Otherwise, you may not see some of the details that are visible in 4K that may not be displayed in the high-def picture.

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But could sitting just three or four feet from the screen hurt your eyesight? Afterall, didn’t our parents tell us that we would go blind if we sat too close?

Well, it turns out that our parents were wrong about that one. Most eye doctors say that sitting just a few feet away from the screen actually will not diminish your eyesight. In fact, the chances of this occurring is even less when watching a 4K TV due to the display’s increased resolution.

The urban legend that watching TV real close would destroy your eyesight began in the 1960s when some early-model General Electric color TVs emitted far more radiation than the average set. General Electric was forced to pull about 90,000 sets off the market, and parents across the country began pulling Jimmy and Janey back from the screen.

The myth still persists today, but there is nothing to it.

But that said, there is something you should worry about when watching TV, regardless of where you sit.

That is, if you watch a lot of TV.

Eye doctors do say that watching a lot of TV — and frequently gazing at your computer and/or mobile device — can lead to eye fatigue, which can create a host of issues such as dry eye syndrome.

And I can personally attest that they are correct.

I recently experienced significant blurring in my right eye for about two weeks, and I made an appointment with my eye doctor halfway expecting to hear I had some dreaded disease such as glaucoma.

But the doc told me that I had dry eye syndrome, likely caused by staring too often at computer and TV screens. (Dry eye syndrome is when your eye is unable to emit the right amount of tears.)

When I told the doctor what I did for a living, her diagnosis became obvious. She prescribed cutting back a bit on the TV/computer use, and inserting artificial tear drops three or four times a day. And within three days, the blurry vision was almost completely gone.

So, Shelley, and all parents reading this, you can stop worrying about
your kid sitting next to the TV screen. But you might want to start worrying if he or she stays there from dusk to dawn.

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— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1289 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

1 Comment on Can You Hurt Your Eyes Sitting Too Close to a TV?

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