How far away from your screen should you sit?

We are probably many who have heard our mothers say that we should not sit so close to the TV, because then we will damage our eyesight or get square eyes. The risk of getting square eyes may not feel so likely, but what about the second statement? Does it hurt your eyes when you sit too close to a screen?

Coming from the 50’s

It has been claimed that it is dangerous to sit too close to screens for a long time. Something that is believed to have originally come from the time when television sets were new. Before 1950, television sets emitted radiation levels that, after long exposure, could increase the risk of eye problems, and also other radiation-related problems for that matter. Today, screens are built in such a way that radiation is no longer a problem.

“It’s not an old wives’ tale; it’s an old technology tale,” Dr. Saffra said in The New York Times.

Strained or tired eyes

But just because the radiation from screens is no longer a problem does not mean that there are no negative effects of sitting too close to a screen. We have all, at some point, experienced strained or tired eyes. Around the eyes are muscles, muscles that tighten when we focus on something. Just like any other muscle in the body, the muscles start to hurt if they have been stretched for too long.

There is evidence that it is more common for the eyes to become strained when we look at a backlit source. Screens are often quite brightly lit, which contrasts with the light in the room you are sitting in. So when the eyes constantly need to adapt between the bright screen and the slightly darker room, the eyes get tired faster.

Fortunately, you can easily prevent tired eyes:

  • Remember to blink frequently.
  • Decrease the brightness of the screen so it doesn’t differ too much towards the room.
  • Make sure the room you are sitting in is well lit.
  • Check out the screen for a while at regular intervals.

Distance of arm’s length

The general yardstick of how far away from your screen you are to sit is an arm’s length. You should thus have about an arm’s length between you and the screen when you sit upright in your chair. If you work on a larger screen, the distance should be even longer. Avoid leaning forward in your chair to see clearly, this can cause back pain and neck problems over time. Instead, zoom in on your screen so you can see comfortably at arm’s length.

The top of the screen height with eyes

Remember not to set your screen too low as it can strain your neck over time. The recommendation is to have the top of the screen level with your eyes. If you have a larger screen, 20 inches or more, the top of the screen should be slightly above eye level.

Turn the screen upward slightly

By turning your screen up a little so that the bottom of the screen is a little closer to what the top is, you allow the entire screen with better focus. However, avoid turning it too much as this can cause ceiling lights to create glare problems from reflected ceiling lights.

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