We spend a lot of time staring at screens. There's the small screen in our pocket, the big screen we watch our shows on, and the medium screen that many of us stare into for eight hours a day to help pay for those other screens. Are all of these screens ruining our eyes?
Probably not, although rumors abound. If you grew up with big ol' tube TVs, you probably remember being told that sitting too close would ruin your eyes. Scientific American traces that myth to a 1967 recall of early color TVs that emitted radiation (like, actual radiation) that were probably harmful to health, as well as to a misunderstanding about nearsighted kids who sat close to the TV. Most likely, they sat close so they could see better; the TV didn't cause their nearsightedness.
When it comes to the variously sized screens we stare at all day, there are some new myths (and facts!) about how they affect our vision.
Eyestrain is real
Looking at screens for too long can cause eyestrain, but eyestrain existed long before screens. (Driving long distances is another cause, the Mayo Clinic notes.) Eyestrain may involve fatigue of the tiny muscles in and around our eyes, and people who get eyestrain may experience discomfort that includes headaches, blurry vision, watering of the eyes, and sensitivity to light.