Q. I like to watch TV in a dark room, particularly movies because it reminds me of being in a movie theater. My wife says I will ruin my vision, or even damage my eyes somehow. So, TV Answer Man, who’s right? — Carl, Philadelphia.
Carl, I wouldn’t brag about this around the house, but…you are right. (Trust me, keep this to yourself, or you might ruin or damage your marriage!)
There’s no evidence that watching television in a dark room will affect your eyesight, even by a small amount. It’s a myth that’s been perpetuated over the years by, okay, let’s say it, concerned parents. (Perhaps your wife’s parents were particularly concerned.)
They see their kids sitting in a dark room, staring intently at a well-lit TV screen and immediately assume that the contrast of dark and light will somehow diminish their vision. But it’s not true. (There’s actually a scientific study to back this up.)
That said, however, watching TV in a dark room can cause eyestrain and headaches, more so than if you watch the lights on. The reason is because the light of the TV is the only light in the room and it frequently changes depending upon what’s happening on screen. That forces the pupils of your eyes to constantly adjust and that leads to those headaches and eye weariness.
There are some things you can do to alleviate this.
One, you can reduce the brightness of the screen.
Two, you can keep a lamp on at the lowest level to provide some light in the room.
Three, you can sit a little further from the screen than you would normally do in a well-lit room.
Or, you can just watch TV the way you currently do — in the dark. If it doesn’t bother you, have at it. It won’t hurt your eyesight.
Carl, hope that helps. But don’t forget to keep it to yourself!
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— Phillip Swann
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