When choosing between a projector versus a television, eye health should be a major consideration. Which of these devices are more damaging to your eye? This is on top of the other respective pros and cons of buying a TV over a projector or a projector over a TV. TVs nowadays are available in high-definition and flat screens, so they’re otherwise known as flatscreen HDTVs. They’re much larger in screen size but more space-efficient than their bulky CRT (cathode ray tube) TV counterparts that used to be as big as a closet or a treasure chest back in the day.
However, even the largest HDTV can’t compete against the largeness that’s possible with a projector and screen, which can go from 100 inches in height and much higher depending on how much room you have to spare in your home or even your backyard if you’re using an inflatable screen. Cost-wise, projectors are pound-for-pound much cheaper than HDTVs of the same maximum screen size.
How Safe Are Projectors versus TVs?
With that said, which is safer? A projector or an HDTV? TV screens produce eye-damaging direct blue light while a projector’s indirect blue light is much gentler on eyes since you’re seeing that light projected second hand on a screen. It’s like the difference in brightness between the sun and the moon, which is merely reflecting the light of the sun. There are also several other safety features available on projectors that make it the safer, eye-friendlier option compared to the more mainstream HDTV. To wit:
- Blue Light Is Ubiquitous: If you’re always up to your nose on some sort of screen then blue light damage should be your first health concern. You should limit your exposure to screens from smartphones to laptops to workstations and to HDTVs because if your eyes are glued to such screens, it will take a toll on your eyesight. The largest of screens available to consumers is their HDTVs. They’re much larger than smartphone touchscreens or even computer monitors. To look at them for hours is akin to staring at a light bulb for prolonged periods of time.
- HDTV Has Loads of Blue Light: Because you spend hours at home, school, and/or work in front of a screen, you should be aware that LED, LCD, and all other TV types emit blue light, especially when you’re watching movies or shows late at night. Too much blue light exposure can be detrimental to the health of your eyes, which can manifest from blurriness and temporary sight symptoms to something more permanent down the line if you don’t cut back on your TV watching time. On average, people watch TV for 4.5 hours a day according to the Nielsen research firm.
- Digital Eye Strain from Blue Light: Blue light can affect your eyesight in a detrimental fashion. To be more specific, blue light is the primary culprit of digital eye strain according to the Blue Light Exposed website. This medical issue is an eye condition that causes symptoms such as neck and back pain, headaches, irritated and dry eyes, difficulty focusing, and blurry vision. It also has disconcerting long-term effects like permanent eye damage, the outright destruction of the retina, macular degeneration, and blindness when push comes to shove. There’s at least one news article reporting how a gamer ended up with permanent eye damage from all the blue light exposure his eyes got after undergoing a mobile gaming marathon.
- How Does Blue Light Damage Your Eyes? Blue light from digital device screens specifically is a wavelength of light found in natural sunlight and in anything that emits light. Aside from TV screens and monitors, it can also be found in light bulbs. Even though most wavelengths in this type of light color are safe for your eyes, the high-energy blue-violet light in the band of 415-455nm is more damaging to your eyes than all the other wavelengths. It’s light the ultraviolet wavelength of light that can do harm on your retina and eye lens. It’s no wonder that it falls under UV intensity. UV light is known to be harmful to the body when it’s overexposed to it, causing sunburns.
- Cut Down on Your Blue Light Exposure: TV watch time used to be longer but the Internet now exists, so most people get their daily blue light dosage from phones and computer screens. Nonetheless, if you can find ways to lower your blue light exposure for the sake of your eyesight and eye health, then you should grab at them. The amount of blue light you can receive from TV for over 4.5 hours a day is quite high and damaging. This on top of the blue light from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other screen-based gadgets. It’s, therefore, encouraging to know that you can cut down on your blue light exposure without cutting down on your watch time by buying a projector.
- What Can Be Done to Cut Back on Blue Light Exposure? Alas, you can’t watch your favorite show or movie while wearing UV-blocking sunglasses even though that’s one surefire way to safeguard your eyes from blue light exposure. Instead, you should cut back on your phone time and your TV time. Read a book. Exercise. Explore nature. Socialize. Don’t be so focused or addicted on anything with a screen. You should instead learn how to manage your time so that you can minimize your blue light exposure. According to Nielsen, the average American adult spends more than 10 hours a day consuming media on screen, whether it’s social media, work-related, school-related, or TV watching (about 4.5 hours).
- Night Mode and How It Limits Blue Light Exposure: It can be hard or impossible for some to cut back on screen and blue light exposure, especially if it’s their job to type up documents or edit videos using a laptop or workstation. Their office might regularly call them through the phone or conference with them through Skype. Thankfully, sites have what’s known as “night mode” to minimize the amount of light going through your eyes. In night mode, the backgrounds of the sites are in black and the texts are in white instead of the other way around. This is more pleasant and healthy for your eyes to look at compared to “day mode”.
- Buy a Projector and Limit Your Eye Strain: An alternative to the blue-light-emitting HDTVs ot today are projectors. The blue light produced by a projector is less straining to the eyes because you won’t be staring straight at the light source but instead, on the projection, it leaves on the projector screen. The light illuminates an image rather than have the image emit light itself. The light won’t hit your eyes directly. It bounces off of the screen before hitting your eyes, thus the screen surface absorbs most of the damaging wavelengths of light. This is why it’s more relaxing to watch a movie via projector than it on an HDTV or even a CRT (cathode ray tube) TV.
- The Safeness of Indirect Blue Light: Projectors allow users to not need to look directly into a screen with a light source in order to see what they’re watching. This is because a projector has indirect light that is projected on a surface, so the image is less intense. The downside to this is that HDTVs are more flexible to watch. More to the point, whether it’s daytime or nighttime and whether the room lights are turned on or off, the HDTV’s image remains crystal clear because the light is emanating directly from the screen. The screen itself is the source of light as opposed to a projector screen that depends on the projector as its light source.
- Watch Out for Direct Projector Light Though: Ironically, in order for the “secondhand” light on the projector screen to appear bright enough to be viewable by you, the projector lens should produce an even more intense and focused light compared to that of a TV or computer screen. It’s the same way the sunlight is supposed to be intense enough to make the pale moon viewable through its reflected light. As safe as the image on the projector is, you should never, ever look the projector lens directly in the eye while it’s turned on. It’s as dangerous as trying to look the sun in the eye. The amount of blue light emitted there can be catastrophic to your eyes.
The Bottom Line of Projector Eye Safety
The indirect blue light of a projector is much safer than the direct blue light of a television set. On that note, a projector can be quite bad for your eyes if you don’t follow safety precautions and common sense. Never directly look at the lens of a projector that’s turned on. To do so can damage or blind your eye more than looking at the screen of an HDTV. However, looking at the image or projection of a projector is perfectly fine and gentle on your eyes. Then again, cumulative damage to your eyes can happen when you look at any screen, even projection screens, for most of the day. Make sure to rest your eyes when doing movie marathons and the like.