I often wondered whether projectors were good or bad for my eyes. Given my passion for things such as home theatre systems, soundproofing, and electronic devices that make our lives more enjoyable and fun, I thought I would look into the topic. So, I put together this helpful article about the positives and negatives of projectors versus TVs and screens, and whether they are good or bad for your eyes.
So, are projectors bad for your eyes? A study published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology showed that blue light produced by TVs, and other screens impacts sleep function and your body’s hormones. It can also cause eye light damage. Projectors are less harmful than screens because you aren’t looking directly at the light source.
But, how bad it is for you when you watch a TV versus a projector needs more explaining. As well as the answer to: does it prevent any damage to your eyes by watching your favorite shows, and movies on a projector versus a TV? So, read on where I’ll discuss the answers to these and also more helpful information related to the damage that can be caused by projectors.
What Damage or Benefits Can A Projector Do To Your Eyes Versus A TV Or Screen?
Pretty much everyone watches TV shows on television and doesn’t experience any significant eye damage. People also use mobile phones in their day to day lives A LOT. So, they aren’t noticeably damaging.
There are rare instances where you can get a blast of light to your eyes accidentally if you move in front of a projector, or for some reason put your face really close to the TV. Although you have a good blink reflex, it should be avoided.
In the case where it does happen, unless you have a pre-existing eye condition you’ll just have a minor headache, and have trouble seeing correctly for 30 seconds or so. Most people have experienced this if they have looked up directly at a lightbulb accidentally.
But, one of the key findings of the study is that blue light confuses the brain and makes you feel as if it is day time when it is in fact night time. This disrupts your hormone patterns. It was also explained in an article by Sleep.org, which linked it to a special chemical in your body called melatonin.
They concluded that is disrupting the levels of it in your body. Which have knock-on effects on your stress levels, and other processes in your body? I’ll explain how all this relates back to projectors versus TVs a bit further down in this article.
There have also been recent studies by authors such as Mathew Walker, author of the famous book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, which have shown that people don’t get nearly as much sleep as they should. Based on many studies done on people’s sleep patterns around the world.
He also went on to discuss studies where reduced cognitive function and reaction times were a direct result of the amount of sleep a person got. Although this opinion is counter to what most people believe, it is nonetheless the hard scientific numbers.
He has also been working closely with governments in this regard. Because getting the message out there will have a large impact to reduce the number of workplace and traffic accidents. And will also improve productivity that will have positive effects on the economy.
For these reasons, projectors are very much preferred to televisions. But, I’ll discuss more that in the next section.
Why Using A Projector Is Better For You Than A TV
A TV or other screen on its default settings produces more blue light that gets to your eyes than a projector. It is based on some high school physics concepts. When the light hits the wall that you are projecting onto, some of the light gets absorbed and reflected in other directions. So, the amount of light that hits your eyes is less than when you watch a TV.
So, the amount of blue light you take in when watching TV shows and movies is reduced. Which means it has less of an effect on your hormone levels. That reduces the amount of stress you feel and gives you a better night’s sleep. Both of which have many powerful positive effects on your health.
How Much Blue Light Is Too Much?
There is no information about how much blue light from a TV is too much. Please reach out to me if you have any details about this, and I will gladly update this article. So, the next best I could find is WebMD’s recommendations around screen time when using a computer.
They recommend an easy to remember 20-20-20 system. To do it, every 20 minutes or so, don’t look at the screen for 20 seconds and look at something that is 20 ft (7 meters) away or more.
This is a minimum. I would recommend going outside rather than looking through a window. Because a window technical can dust on it, that won’t give you the full effect.
So, I would say just go outside for a minute or so and look around. Or, take a seat and look up at the clouds, or the neighbors’ trees.
PsychologyToday has said that recent studies have shown that most people get around 8 hours or more of screen time on average. But, it is my opinion that it should be kept at a minimum. Especially for children and young adults. I myself feel calmer, in touch, at peace, and balanced when I spend a good amount of time outside during the day.
Although to rush for a tight deadline I might have spent a lot of time at the office, I try to limit it to an average working day of 8 hours or so.
So, my recommendation is to follow how you feel. And have err on the side of less screen time.
Many computer games are addictive by their design, according to the Psychiatric Times. Where they use reward indicators, to keep people playing them for longer and longer. So, it is important to monitor your behavior and those of your children and young adults to pull them away from the computer when they need it. And reduce the amount of screen time they get.
What You Should Change On Your TV and Projector To Reduce Eye Strain: A Guide
I would agree about watching your TV or projector in full color looks the best. But, the headache and eye strain is generally a catch 22. So, I’ve compiled of list of hacks you can use to reduce the eye strain you experience from your projector and TV. Together, with reducing the amount of blue light you take in.
01. My thoughts are that you should turn the brightness settings down as low as they can go, where it still looks good to watch. The settings that TVs are on out of the box are usually a bit high. Editing the contrast as well can improve how well you can see it, which can allow you to lower the brightness even further while keeping your TV still nice and clear to watch.
Play around with it for a few minutes, a nice feature of most TVs and projectors is, you can restore the brightness and contrast settings to ‘factory’ or ‘default’. More popular models may also have some optimum settings that you can find with a quick Google search. It’s worth a shot.
The next set of settings to look into describe more where to position your TV or projector to lessen the strain on your eyes. So, you’re more comfortable.
02. There are devices called bias lights that are good for TVs. But, for projectors, they don’t offer much. They are a strip of lights that you place on the rear of your TV, along the outer edge, out of sight. They balance out the light surrounding your TV. And they have the added benefit of allowing you to keep the brightness of the screen the same.
If you haven’t used one before, you should definitely give them a try. But, do so after you’ve taken all of the tips in this list and run into eye strain. One that I recommend is the Luminoodle Professional, because they have over 6,500 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/5. So, you can be sure they work a treat.
Other smaller, cheaper LED lights often break after a while. So, it’s better to get some that last, and are professional quality. Click here to buy them on Amazon. Also, note that is an affiliate link, which means I will get a small commission. Please use it, as it really helps me out to continue to produce awesome content like this, to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
03. If you sit roughly 5 times further away than the size of your screen. It will very helpful for TVs. But, with a projector generally, the screen size is too large to make that possible. Because your lounge and pretty much everyone’s is too small. But, definitely make some adjustments if you’re using a TV.
As long as you take lots of breaks watching a bigger screen at a close distance, it won’t have that significant an effect. With that being said, you still want to try to optimize it.
04. Aim for there to be no glare on your screen. So, close blinds, and limit usage to where it is low light. Also, you can make adjustments to where you put your TV or projector so that it gets less sunlight and reflected sunlight. The glare will make it harder to see your screen and make your eyes work more.
05. Where it is possible for you, try to watch your screen with medium lighting in the background. When it’s too bright you won’t be able to see your screen. But, when it’s dark the difference between the dark background and your bright screen strains your eyes.
06. A bigger screen is better. The text and images on smaller TVs make it so that you have to strain your eyes to make out the lettering. So, get a bigger size screen where possible. The good news is projectors that have high resolution -1080p or so- and a LARGE screen size of about 5 meters are very cheap nowadays. I will provide a list of the best ones at the bottom of this article.
So, Are There Any Drawbacks To Getting A Projector?
It used to be that quality projectors that gave you a really nice viewing and sound experience were upwards of $5000 new. But, nowadays technology has increased so much that budget projectors now provide the same quality. And provide a viewing experience that is less strain on your eyes that a TV. You can pick models that have a huge screen size for under $300.
I recently did an article about whether budget projectors are worth it, in which I review the highest-rated budget projectors on Amazon. Definitely give it a read now by clicking here: Budget Projectors, to go to the article.
Therefore price was a limiting factor in buying a quality projector. Another drawback of projectors though minor are:
You Need A Large Wall, and The Projector Needs To Be Put In A Specific Location.
Some rooms are better suited to a TV, just because of how they are set out. But, with a bit of creativity, you can get one set up and have a much larger screen, at a small fraction of the cost.
They are also very portable, so you can take it over to your friends or family’s house to watch a movie or a sports game.
Ideally, you should place your projector to the side of your couch. Or, mounted on the wall directly behind you. But, they blend in with your decor more if you put them on top of a cabinet.
Another logistical issue you might run into is you don’t have a wall that is suitable. However, even if you have a wall that is only about 10 feet (3 meters) wide, it is still more than worth it. And if your walls are a color that won’t work well. You can easily put up a piece of white canvas using some cheap fixtures or double-sided tape that will work wonderfully. Depending on how much of a handyman you are.
People Can’t Walk In Front of It… “Down in Front”
If you’re using it to play video games like guitar hero, or are having a party, every time someone walks in front of it, you won’t be able to see what is going on. This can be a significant issue if you’ve got it facing a wall that gets a lot of foot traffic. Say your lounge is in between the kitchen and the outdoor area.
So, keep this in mind. Although, this will be an issue with a TV as well. You will get more blockage with a projector because of the way the projector works, especially is they walk close by the projector. Because they can block the whole screen.
Other than that there aren’t any drawbacks to projectors, as now the sound quality and resolution are significantly high enough that they are fantastic to watch, and are a low price. Again to go to my review of the top budget projectors on Amazon, click here Are budget projectors worth it?
Projectors are ok for your eyes as long as you use them in moderation. Projectors are also better for your eyes than a TV or screen. Because the light you see isn’t coming directly from the source.
The blue light that comes from screens and projectors has been shown to impact your hormone levels, which can cause interruptions to your sleeping patterns. So, limiting the amount of blue light you take in leads to a healthier and less stressful life. High-quality projectors are also very cheap nowadays, as a result of technology becoming better. So, they are definitely a better option over a TV or screen.
- Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: Zhao, Z. C., Zhou, Y., Tan, G., & Li, J. (2018). Research progress about the effect and prevention of blue light on eyes. International journal of ophthalmology, 11(12), 1999–2003. https://doi.org/10.18240/ijo.2018.12.20
- Sleep.org: Is it Bad to Watch TV Right Before Bed?
- Wikipedia: Matthew Walker
- WebMD.com: How often should I take a break to relieve computer vision syndrome?
- Psychologytoday.com: How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?
- Psychiatrictimes.com: Video Games: Recreation or Addiction?
- Unionvilleoptometry.ca: How To Prevent Eye Strain While Watching TV
- Wikipedia: Bias Lighting