Think outside the box: How to protect your eyes while watching television

Mar 23, 2018 in Eye Care

Man and woman drinking wine and laughing

We can all be guilty during the dark winter months of spending our evenings or weekends glued to the gogglebox. Thanks to on-demand services like Netflix, box-set binging has never been more tempting.

With so much good TV at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget that age-old adage about the effects of TV on your eyesight. But while your eyes won’t go square from watching too much telly, your vision could start to suffer. So, with ‘streaming season’ well underway, here are our top tips for screen eye care.

Give it some room

One of the most common mistakes we make is sitting too close to the TV screen. With large, high-definition screens commonplace in most living rooms, there’s no need to sit pupil-to-pixel. Space is your friend when you’re seeking to prevent eye strain.

For a 40-inch TV, position yourself around 6-9 feet (approx. 2-3m) from your screen. A 50-inch display will allow you to move slightly further back, to 7-11 feet (approx. 2-3.5m). Be pragmatic though – if you find yourself squinting at a distant screen, or you feel you’re so close your eyes are straining, adjust your spacing accordingly.

Room to manoeuvre

Alongside screen size, adjusting your living room configuration can also help to protect your vision. For longer viewing stints, it’s worthwhile drawing the curtains to minimise glare on the screen. The next question is where you choose to mount your TV. Wall brackets or stands are typically the go-to choices for those seeking a neat and tidy solution – but it’s important to keep the TV level to the line of your eyesight. This prevents you from craning your neck and looking upwards, which can strain eye muscles.

Finally, much as the earnest home-cinema aficionado will seek to replicate the low-lit ambiance of the local movie theatre, watching TV in the dark is to be avoided. Some ambient lighting is recommended to avoid eye strain.

Break free

When you’re deep into season 4,000 of the latest transatlantic TV sensation, the thought of taking a break from the nerve-shredding tension may seem impossible. But, if you can manage to haul yourself away from the screen, your eyes will thank you for it. There’s a simple rule which can be helpful to remember: 20-20-20. After 20 minutes of screen viewing (that goes for TV or computer screens), take a 20-second break and look at something around 20-feet away. This quick optical exercise will keep your eye muscles fighting fit and protect both your vision and your viewing pleasure.

Eat. Sleep. Drink. Repeat

You might think a sedentary pursuit like watching TV wouldn’t require peak fitness. And while you’d be right, that doesn’t mean you can forget about your dietary and sleeping patterns entirely.

Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water is vital for overall optical health, and is especially important if you plan to indulge in lengthy sofa sessions. The same goes for your diet – eating a balanced diet is great for your optical wellbeing.

Finally, even after the most strenuous of box-set binging marathons, rest and recuperation might not seem necessary. But your eyes will need time to recover, so getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep is highly recommended.

Check out a check-up

If you are watching TV for long periods and are concerned about your eye protection, it’s advisable to have regular eye tests. Consult your local optician if you begin to encounter headaches or blurred vision. Your optician may also be able to recommend eye exercises, too.

If you need an eye test, or help with any optical condition, we’re ready to help. Find your nearest branch or book an appointment online.