A Long Bloody Rant
Tonight’s Episode

The TV Burned Out My Eyes

I don’t know about the rest of you but when I was growing up I was constantly getting yelled at by my parents and grandparents to not sit so close to the TV, because it, in their words, “will ruin your eyes”. It occurred to me, as I was watching my son stand inches away from the TV screen in order to really see Grover dancing with Cookie Monster, that I don’t hear parents say this anymore.  It honestly didn’t occur to me to say it either, but watching Chance wriggle up on the TV like a puppy stalking a ball brought back the memory of the many times I felt a hand grab me by the shoulder and yank me back from the set with the old parental mantra ringing in my ears.  “Don’t sit so close! You’ll ruin your eyes!”

Why did they say this?  Did TVs, back in the day of vacuum tubes, really have the potential to rot out your eyes?  Were they potentially cancerous weapons of entertainment?  Or was it an old-wives-tale born out of a fear of the “new” technology?  My grandfather actually repaired TVs (as well as having worked in the labs when they were developing nuclear weapons) so you’d think that he would know, right?  Except I seem to recall it was always my grandmother who told me not to sit in front of the TV.

I kind of assumed that it just wasn’t true, that they were overreacting, but now I wonder.  Anyway, did any of you hear this too?  Are you letting your kids sit close to the TV? 

              - the weirdgirl 



Well, they say that being a computer programmer and the like can ruin your eyes because of the bright and the way your eyes focus on the little screen and what not. Maybe it's the same thing?


I think it probably came as a consequence of only having one tv in the household. It was a way to get kids to back away and give everyone a clear view of the tv. Also used was, 'You make a better door than a window.'


Yeah, I got that too from my parents. And I spent 90% of my adolescence in front of the television and still have 20/15 vision.


I heard it too. And honestly, I can't think of any reason standing too close would screw up your eyes. But then, what do I know?


I had a cousin who would always sit very close to the TV. Her parents yelled at her all the time to move further away. Turns out she really couldn't see if she wasn't that close. Once she got glasses, she was able to sit back on the sofa with the rest of the family.


your gramps worked at the lab where they built the bomb! no wonder your rents were hippies, with rebeliion and all of that.

I kind of feel the same about the way Wood's mother yells at me every time I read under, say, anything less than a 150 watt bulb. "You're going to ruin your eyes," she says and turns a gigantic spotlight on me and my book. I want to say, "girl, my eyes are already ruined. Don't you see your husband out back burning ants with sunlight shot through my eyeglasses?"

the weirdgirl

I'm glad to hear that other people got this one too. I was starting to think it might be another family peculiarity.

I think any of us who wear glasses know that being vision-challenged is mainly genetics. I also hear the "read in better light" thing from my in-laws a lot. And these are the people who sit in pitch black rooms to watch TV!

Scott M.

I have no children. But I sit about six feet from the TV screen. I also keep a lamp on, when it's dark outside. I don't know if either of these help--but they certainly don't hurt.

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