Does sitting too close to a television hurt your eyes?

Yes and no. Your eyes might hurt, but they won't sustain permanent damage.

This wasn't always the case. Prior to the 1950s, television sets emitted more radiation, and if you spent too much time in front of the set, you might have increased your risk of some eye problems. The technology has improved significantly since then, however, and modern televisions aren't dangerous.

Most of us heard this myth from our parents, and the "you'll ruin your eyes!" idea does seem logical. After all, eye strain can occur when we focus on short-distance objects for long periods of time, and repetitive eye strain seems like a recipe for permanent damage—right?

Nope. Eye strain is uncomfortable, but it's not dangerous. Besides, while children are more likely to sit close to the sets than adults, eye strain isn't as much of an issue for them.

"Children can focus at close distance without eye strain better than adults," the American Academy of Ophthalmology wrote on its website in 2010. "Therefore children often develop the habit of holding reading materials close to their eyes or sitting right in front of the television. There is no evidence that this damages the eyes either in children or adults. With children, this habit usually diminishes as they grow older."

There's also a correlation/causation issue at play. Children might sit closer to the TV if they have issues with their long-distance vision; these children will need glasses, and their parents might attribute their nearsightedness to their TV-watching habits.

The bottom line: Some kids may get headaches or temporary blurry vision from sitting too close to the television, but unless they're experiencing symptoms, there's no need to worry.