Medical Myth: Sitting Too Close to The TV Damages Your Eyesight

Medical Myth: Sitting Too Close to The TV Damages Your Eyesight

It’s a line most parents have used at some point: Is there any truth to the claim that sitting too close to the television can give you square eyes?

It seems the worst effects aren’t on your eyes, but what other effects a sedentary lifestyle might bring.

When growing up, I vividly remember my mother shouting at my siblings and me to stop sitting so close to the television, as the TV would damage our eyesight.

My mom never shouted at our cat for sitting too close.

I thought maybe the cat’s eyes are different, but like us, he’d just ignore her anyway.

Well, it turns out mom was wrong (not that I’d ever mention it).


sitting close to tv damages your eyesight

There’s no evidence that sitting close to the TV damages your eyes.

There are probably two reasons the myth came about.

The first is similar to the myth that reading in poor light causes eye damage; it’s falsely assumed that focusing on things very close harms the eyes.

It doesn’t.


It is, however, true that in the 1960s, some color TVs emitted an enormous amount radiation (General Electric for example emitted excessive amounts of radiation – as much as 100,000 times more than federal health officials considered safe) and ultimately were forced to recall them.

This could, at least theoretically damage your eyes and the urban legend has seemed to have been forever propagated.

Contrary to popular belief, sitting too close to a TV will not damage your eyes; at most, it might cause some temporary eyestrain.

While children have the ability to focus at close distances without eyestrain better than adults, there is no evidence that this damages the eyes either in children or adults.

Furthermore, the habit usually diminishes as they grow older.

So… if you find yourself or your kids sitting too close to the TV, there’s certainly no harm in getting your eyes checked!

Everyone should have a comprehensive doctor’s eye examination at least every 2 years or even more often if you have a family history of eye problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma.

… and for those growing eyes, MSP covers kid’s eye exams as frequently as every six months!

Haven’t checked your eyes in a long time? Book an appointment now!

12 Comments Leave a reply

  1. Otis Agashe

    I see your page has so many interesting articles. Thanks for the time you spend doing it, we all appreciate it! Funny too!

  2. Collene Tipern

    Love your blog. I thought I always sat too close to the screen. ENLIGHTENING!!

  3. Russ Hiness
    Permalink to comment#

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  4. Annie Devers
    Permalink to comment#

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  5. Sue Brannigan
    Permalink to comment#

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  6. Anonymous

    MOST of us will be familiar with our parents telling us off for sitting too close to the TV for fear we d end up with square eyes .

  7. Medical Educational Blogs

    Great post! So engaging and entertaining. Your author, while distinguished and well honored, must be too busy to be able to continue with writing these awesome articles (he’s also a doctor and owns the Image Optometry chain??? Wow! I would love the opportunity to apprentice as a staff blogger, how can I apply to work for such a great employer?

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  12. Jacey

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