Since you were a little kid, you’ve probably heard that it’s bad for your eyes to watch television in the dark. But is it really going to damage your eyes and vision or is just an old wives’ tale?
When you are watching television in a dark room, your eyes have to constantly adjust to the different lighting. You may think the light on the television stays the same, but in a dark room if you look at the wall opposite of the television you can see that the lighting level changes very rapidly.
Every time the scenery on the screen changes or if the television show switches to a commercial, then there can be a big change in the light emitted from the screen quickly.
This constant changing level of light makes your eyes work extra hard, which results in eyestrain. Eyestrain typically results in dry, tired eyes and occasionally headaches, but it can also be a contributing factor to the development of glaucoma.
One study conducted by the Lighting Research Center (part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) found that eyestrain can be reduced while watching television by lighting the area around the television. The results of the study found that this lighting also ended in less visual discomfort, fatigue and a quicker response in brain waves from visual cues.
Some of us (let’s be honest, many of us!) work on our computers in the dark too. It is probably more commonly done by teenagers than any other age group, but it happens more than it should.
Since computer monitors and television screens are now manufactured very similarly, users are at the same risk when using a computer in the dark as they are when they watch television in the dark. Eyestrain is a growing problem among the younger generation who spend more and more time using the computer whether it be in the light or the dark.
As children, we were also warned against reading in the dark. We were told that we would ruin our eyes forever. Today, more and more children read on e-readers or tablets. These pose the same risks to your eyes that televisions and computers do.
If you want to read, make sure there is a secondary light source. If you don’t want it bright, it can be a softly lit background light. It just needs to be strong enough to keep your eyes from straining to see the text on the screen.
Symptoms of Eyestrain
Eyestrain is often thought of as something that is temporary. So most people think their eyes hurt for a while, but after they rest them, everything goes back to normal. In the short term, this is usually correct. Eyestrain has been associated with presbyopia, farsightedness, and even glaucoma.
You should listen to your eyes! I know that sounded funny didn’t it? Our eyes don’t talk, but they do give us clues that something is not right. Some symptoms that you are straining your eyes include:
- Watery and/or irritated eyes
- Burning eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sometimes your eyes can even feel tired and overworked
Steps to Save Your Eyesight
The best ways ensure you keep your eyesight healthy in regards to watching television and computer usage at night is to keep at least a small amount of light on. Low level lighting can keep the mood, but reduce eyestrain. Be aware of where the lighting sources are set in relation to the screen, otherwise they can create a glare on the screen which increases the risk of eyestrain instead of reducing it.
Give your eyes a break from the electronic devices. If you are watching a movie, look away from the screen every 30 minutes. Take a couple of minutes to look around the room, scan it. Do not focus on any single object, as this is making your eyes work when your goal is to let them rest. Or close your eyes for a minute to allow them to get that bit of rest.
Make sure you are blinking often. If you are working on a computer or on an e-reader, take frequent breaks. Also, make sure you are sitting far enough away from the television and computer screen.
Try eye vitamins to reduce eyestrain and strengthen your eyes. Eye vitamins, like the ones found in the Ocu-Plus Formula, really make a difference in strengthening your eyes, and therefore your vision. Just like any other muscle in your body, you need to take care of the muscles around the eyes. Keep them healthy and strong and you’ll find your eyes won’t get tired as fast or easily!