Question & Answer

Does sitting too close to a screen or TV make a difference to eye health?

Click image to download

The Evidence

  • It has been claimed that sitting too close to a screen or television can make a difference in eye health.
  • We looked for studies to find out whether or not sitting too close to a screen or television affects eye health.
  • We found one systematic review on the causes of eye strain from using a computer.

This kind of eye strain is called computer vision syndrome (CVS)

  • In this systematic review, a summary of the results of 4 studies showed that being close to a screen increases the risk of CVS.
  • We also found three cross-sectional studies, where information is collected through surveys. However, cross-sectional studies cannot prove that something caused something else.
    • The first study was conducted in 2022 among teachers in Saudi Arabia, and reported that there was no difference between those who kept further away from the screen compared with those who were closer.
    • The second study was conducted in 2021 among computer workers in Egypt, and reported that being 20 inches or closer from the computer was associated with eye strain.
    • The third study was conducted in 2017 among school-age children in Ethiopia, and reported that there is an association between being close to the TV screen (2m or less) was associated with visual impairment.
  • Overall, two available studies reported an association between sitting too close to a computer screen or television and poor eye health.

Guidelines and recommendations

  • We searched several national and international organisations including WHO, CDC, ECDC, HSE, and HSPCfor related guidelines and recommendations.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that sitting and looking at screens for long periods of time is not good for our health. Examples of these screen activities include watching television or videos, playing computer games, etc.
  • The Health Service Executive suggested to their staff to position the screen at least 20-30 inches (51-76 centimetres) from the face (at arm’s length) to reduce eye strain.

Things to Remember

  • Just because one study shows that people who got a treatment did better or worse than those who did not, does not mean it’s the final answer.
  • Just because a claim is made by an expert or authority, you cannot be sure that it is trustworthy.
  • We can rarely be 100% certain about any claim.


  • Lead Researcher: Dr. KM Saif-Ur-Rahman, Senior Research Methodologist, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway.
  • Reviewed by: Dr. Paula Byrne, Senior post-doctoral researcher, iHealthFacts, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway.
  • Topic advisor: Prof Andrew Murphy, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway, Health Research Board Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland and General Practitioner principal in a semi-rural setting.
  • Public and Patient advisor: Deirdre Mac Loughlin, Public and Patient Involvement in research (PPI) advisor, PPI Ignite, University of Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr. Claire O’Connell, PhD in cell biology, Masters in Science Communication. Contributor to The Irish Times, writing about health, science and innovation.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest for this health claim summary.