Sit back or else! Or else what?

My parents used to tell me to not watch too much TV and watch from a safe distance or it’ll ruin my eyes. They STILL nag me about using my computer too much and that I will ruin my eyes from staring at my computer screen 24/7. Well nag no longer because sitting too close to a TV or any other screen does NOT cause short-sightedness aka myopia.

Myopia is when the eye cannot focus or see clearly things that are far away. Myopia is caused by the eyeball, which is normally a sphere, turning into an oval shape such as a grape. Since your eyeball changes shape as you grow up, nearsightedness starts during adolescence and eyesight may keep getting worse until you are an adult 20-30, or maybe even older.

A study done at Ohio State University, where researchers followed 4,500 children between the ages of 6 to 11 for over 20 years, showed that there was no causation between myopia and children who spend more time in from of screens. They monitored the children’s screen time and tested their eyesight. They found that watching TV too close or for a long period of time may cause eye strain, but eye strain does not cause myopia.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there is NO way to prevent myopia. The number one risk factor of myopia is your genes. You are more likely to have myopia if both of your parents are shortsighted. In addition, the use of glasses or any type of corrective lenses does not further or hinder the progression of myopia. So no matter what you do, you cannot escape.

The rumor that sitting too close to the TV affects your eyesight goes back to when the television was first invented, almost 100 years ago. This is because TVs in the 1960s emitted about 100,000 times the radiation than TVs today. People feared that sitting too close to the TV will impact your health due to that radiation. However the TVs that we use today do not emit such a dangerous amount of radiation so you have nothing to worry about.

TV does not cause myopia, but myopia may causes children to sit closer to the TV. The null hypothesis in this case is actually correct. Children with myopia sit closer to the television for their own comfort. If a child is sitting too close to the TV, he/she may need a trip to the eye doctor soon.

We live in the 21st century where screens are everywhere. Children as young as infants are laying eyes on these screens. A study conducted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute shows that for every hour an infant watches videos, they learn six to eight less words than infants who don’t get exposed to the screens. TV may cause developmental problems in infants, but there is no evidence that it ruins their eyesight. So the next time your parents nag you about getting off the computer, tell them it’s not your eyesight that is deteriorating, it is your brain. Oops, is that worse?

1 thought on “Sit back or else! Or else what?

  1. William Dever

    This was very interesting to me because I can sometimes spend over 5 hours on the computer during the day and always thought it was damaging my eyes. My parents would say the same thing to me growing up and would limit how much time I was in front of a screen. The link below also found no good evidence of permanent eye damage, however, you can still get eyestrain or dry eyes.

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