TV Vs. Projector: Which Is Better For Your Eyes?

Today’s digital technologies and online streaming services provide many opportunities for their spectators.  When deciding on a tv vs. projector to view your unlimited media, which do you think is better for your eyes?

Video sellers may point out technical advantages of the TVs compared to projectors but never speak of their effects on human health.  Considering the impact on human eyes, we must admit, unanimously at that, that a projector is the better choice.

Also read: How Far Can a Projector be from the Screen?

TV Vs. Projector: Which Is Better For Your Eyes
A pair of eyes are a hard thing to replace. Take care of your eyes.

Of course, this argument also has different sides.  Watching TV a couple of hours per day with the lights on in the evenings is unlikely to harm your eyes.  However, today we are seldom satisfied with a few hours in front of the TV, especially on weekends. 

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What about today’s youth, which often spends days in front of the screen, playing online or video games? 

Considering all these factors, we have to make a sound decision on what kind of video system to choose.  In this case, the few technical or cost disadvantages that projectors may have are heavily outweighed by their safety for human eyes.  

Advantages And Disadvantages – The TV Vs. Projector Debate Examined

When choosing your home theater, the most logical thing is to compare the offered products.  The comparison depends on the criteria you have established.  For example, if you have eye issues, the choice between a TV and projector may be more important than you think. 

Even If you do not have eye problems, you should be aware that your home theater can also damage your vision, just like a computer screen.  Therefore, the right choice for the health of your eyes would be the less harmful out of the two devices. 

Comparing TVs and projectors, we should approach from an eye health standpoint. 

The TV fans would highlight complicated installation and use, darkness requirements, lower image quality, and high prices (which is arguable), among the main disadvantages of projectors. 

However, projectors have quite good advantages that make many people choose them for their home theaters.  The list below provides several primary benefits of projectors over TVs. 

The subject of our particular interest is those merits related to human eye health.

  • Customizable screen size
  • Huge images
  • Eye comfort
  • Compact size
  • Portability
  • Value

Eye Comfort of TV Vs. Projector

The eye comfort that projectors provide is closely tied to eye safety although, huge images also have to do with it.  What makes the difference between TVs and projectors is the type of light they emit. 

TVs reproduce images via direct light from their screens, while projectors reflect the light on the screen in front.  Reflecting off light is less weary for the eyes than the direct one emitted by LED and OLED TVs, for example. The emitted light from the screen, on the other hand, can be dangerous. (2)

Have you ever experienced eye strain after staring a long time at your computer or TV screen?  Millions of people worldwide have this experience, but very few are aware of what causes it.  Technically interpreted, the incoming TV signal goes through a cathode-ray tube (CRT), which converts it to an image. 

The image then is emitted, via electrons and light, through the TV screen.  The problem comes from the brightness of the emitted light because the human eye has limits on how much brightness can tolerate.

Various researchers have studied the effects of the light-emitted diode (LED) light on the human eye over the years. 

The main conclusion from these studies is that the long eye exposure to LED lights, the most widely used TV technology nowadays, can cause irreparable damage to the retina. 

Retina cells are non-regenerative; therefore, such injury would be irrevocable.  The light brightness only could not cause such serious harm.  Researchers found that the causer is the radiation in the HEV light, also known as blue light.  (3)

Blue Light

blue light effect on eyes which watching TV or projector
A girls sits dreary before a bluish tv screen.

High-energy visible light (HEV) or blue light is high-frequency, high-energy light in the violet/blue band from 400 to 450nm in the visible spectrum.  In nature, the sun emits blue light.  (4)

Fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, computers, laptops, TV, and cell phone screens that use LED technology emit high amounts of blue light, too.  The shorter the electromagnetic wave of light is, the more harmful energy it transmits. 

The UV rays are the only more powerful light with shorter high-energy waves than blue light.  (5)

In 2019, France’s Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) published a report proving the harmful effect of the blue LED light on the eye, which can cause impaired eyesight. 

The report elaborates on the short-term effects on the retina, and long-term effects of age-related macular degeneration, inflicted by exposure to blue light.  Blue light affects not only the vision but also other components of human health.  Harvard Health Publishing alarms about the adverse effects of HEV light on sleep.  (4)

The minimum result of prolonged exposure to blue light from the screen can be a digital eye strain.

Retinal Injury

The main danger for the human eye exposed to blue light comes from the electromagnetic radiation in wavelength between 400 and 450nm.  The eye can perceive photopic luminous flux while the blue light emits radiometric radiance. 

The difference in the spectrum of brightness is about 26 times higher, so the retina cannot stand it. In other words, photoreceptors in the eye absorb light with a higher brightness than its limit.  The result is photochemical-induced retinal injury, which is irrecoverable. (4)

The most powerful emitter of blue light is the sun.  Nevertheless, long-distance and the air reduce its volumes to harmless levels when it hits our eyes and skin.  It is not the case with the LED screen of our TV or computer, however. 

The direct emission of blue light causes eye and other health problems.  Besides the retinal injury, The list below displays some additional risks and side effects of blue light exposure. (5)

  1. Digital eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Sore or irritated eyes
  • Tired eyes
  • Headaches
  • Facial muscles fatigued by squinting  
  1. Sleep problems
  • Risk of hormone-related cancers
  • Lower levels of leptin
  • Metabolic changes, especially blood sugar
  1. Macular degeneration

Digital Eye Strain

Researchers have found that using digital devices, such as computers, cell phones, or TVs for long periods can cause digital eye strain.  People, who stare at the screen for long, are prone to blink less often than usual. 

Fewer blinks can lead to less moisture and more tension in the eyes.  The digital eye strain involves different symptoms in different individuals, but it should be a signal lamp for possible retinal injury.  (5) 

You can see some of the symptoms in List 2 above. 

Effect On Sleep

TV and projector effect on sleep
A girl sleeps peacefully in a cozy bed. She must not have watched too much blue light!

Various studies alarm that the prolonged exposure to blue light interrupts people’s sleep-wake cycle. 

Light sensors in human eyes and skin discern the daylight, consisted of intense blue light waves, and the warmer tones in the red spectrum at the end of the day. 

As a result, receptors release the sleep-indicating hormone melatonin when sunlight is going down.  However, deceived by screen blue light in the evening, sensors do not release melatonin, which leads to disruptions in sleep.  (5) 

Sleeplessness may have some severe health consequences, shown in List 2 above. 

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) refers to the damage of the back of the eye, called macula, due to advanced age.  People above 50 usually suffer AMD and lose the ability to see the center of their field of vision. 

Various researches on animals promoted the version that blue light most likely accelerates the process of macular degeneration.  However, no clear pieces of evidence about such effect have been released so far.  (5)  

Nevertheless, uncertainty in science should never be soothing.

TV Vs. Projector – Concerns

When choosing between TV and Projector, eye health should be the number one consideration.  The following primary concern for the eyes is, of course, blue light. 

Knowing which device emits direct blue light and reflecting it (if there is any), the choice should not be so difficult.  However, we can formulate several criteria regarding human eye health, according to which to compare and contrast the two devices to make the best choice. 

The table below represents how TVs and projectors meet the eye health criteria.

CRITERIA    PROJECTORS        TVs
Blue light DischargeVirtually Blue Light FreeStrong Blue Light Emission
Light SourceReflected LightEmitting Direct Light
Screen SizeEasily Larger Than 80”Common Size Under 70”
Smart Safety FeaturesBuilt-in      None
How TVs and Projectors meet eye health.

The criteria above are based on their relation to eye health safety.  The first two, blue light discharge and light source, compare the light emissions of the two devices. 

The second two, screen size and intelligent safety features, represent the properties (if any) of projectors and TVs to prevent harmful light effects.  These criteria are a perfect standpoint to decide which device to buy for home.  They should have top priority, before the price or difficult installing because the health has no price.

Blue Light Discharge

Usage of blue light is the working principle of LED technologies.  Therefore, TVs are an indisputable champion in this regard. 

According to research held in the US, the average American spends over 4,5 hours in front of the LED, LCD, and other variations of TV, which emit detrimental amounts of blue light, especially at night time. 

Projectors, on the other hand, produce far less concentrated amounts of blue light.  Providing that the spectator does not stare directly at the light source, the damage to his eyes is minimal or none. (6)

Light Source

Generally, light sources are divided into two categories, according to their trajectory to the eyes – direct and indirect.  Direct light is quite hard for the human eye, and when this is blue light, it is harmful. 

TVs and other screen-based devices emit direct light.  Projectors, on the contrary, use indirect light to reproduce images on the screen.  Their reflected light is less intrusive to human vision and reduces eye strain and other harmful effects of prolonged viewing.  (6) 

The projector screen absorbs the initial flux of blue light and turns it into a harmless light stream.    

Screen Size

Screen size is directly related to eye comfort.  Projectors can easily create huge images due to the capability of their screens to be produced in sizes over 100”. 

Larger images are more comfortable to view and reduce eye strain.  Reading subtitles, for example, is much easier and does not require any eye effort.  TVs have limitations in size, and in combination with direct light, they exhaust the eyes much more.  (6)

Smart Safety Features

One of the most significant advantages of modern projectors over TV technologies is their built-in safety features against accidental eye injury. 

So-called smart projectors have an eye protection option, which temporarily switches off the lens when an object is detected too close to the projector beam.  This function automatically eliminates every possibility for prolonged exposure to direct light, even by chance. 

It is a great advantage, especially if you have children running around.  Even the latest TV models do not have such safety features.  (6)

Safety Summary

To summarize, analyzes of TVs and projectors’ safety regarding eye health concludes that undisputedly, projectors are better for human eyes.  They minimize the harmful effects of blue light and direct light while providing adjustable screen projection size.  (6) 

Projectors function on the principle of reflected light, which contributes significantly to eye comfort.  Finally, yet importantly, modern projectors have intelligent safety features to avoid accidental eye injuries.  With that being said, by investing in a projector for your home theater, you invest in your family’s health.

FAQ

How To Reduce Blue Light Exposure?

The best way to reduce blue light exposure is to minimize our screen addiction.  However, the internet and smart technologies are already so deeply integrated into our daily routines that it is pretty unlikely to change our habits.  Furthermore, people working on computers do not even have a choice. 
Projectors, for example, provide an excellent option to reduce blue light exposure!  Even if you have to work on a computer daytime, you can relax in the evenings, watching your favorite show or serial on the projector screen. 

How Can I Protect My Eyes From TV?

Complete protection is impossible unless you use a projector.  However, there are few steps you can take to mitigate the digital eye strain. 
First, adjust the lighting to a comfortable for your eyes level.  Then limit the screen time, take breaks, often ventilate your place.  Choosing appropriate eyeglasses could also have a preventive effect on your eyes. 

Where Should Light Be When Watching TV?

The right place for the light is in the area behind the TV set.  This way, the light will emit outwards in a scattered manner, around the bright spot of your TV. 
Placing the light somewhere else, especially in front of the screen, would be pretty inappropriate.  Shining onto the screen would create irritating reflections on your TV screen, which can also cause eye strain.  You also have to adjust the light intensity properly.

Can I Use Projector For Everyday TV Watching? 

People usually associate watching TV with its watching on a TV screen. However, watching TV every day on the projector is a possible and reasonable action.  We have already pointed out the health benefits of using a projector. 
Daily projector use can add a better TV-watching experience on a higher screen and at a lower price.  Except that some bulbs may run down faster, nothing else can happen to your projector. 

Final Thoughts

To worry whether we use eye-safe video devices or not when LED technologies became a driving necessity of our intensive lives sounds a bit inappropriate. 

Many people would wonder why they should spend time, money, and energy buying and installing an eye-safe projector at home while most of the day his family and he spent in front of the computer or cell phone display.  However, everyone should know that a healthy lifestyle is worth it. 

Watching TV on your projector for few hours in the evening may not have the desired absolute eye safety.  However, this will be an excellent example for your children to appreciate their health and do their best to preserve it.


Sources 

  1. Emily Clarke, “Advantages of Projector in Home Theatre Environment.” Medium, https://medium.com/@emilyclarkelondon/advantages-of-projector-in-home-theatre-environment-9ed9ca284d20 Assessed Apr 24, 2021
  2. Bryan Cavataro, “Projector or TV: Is It Even a Contest?”  Gear Patrol, www.gearpatrol.com/tech/a119933/tvs-vs-projectors/  Assessed Apr 24, 2021
  3. PTI, “ LED Lights Can Damage Your Eyes: Study.” Gadgets Now, www.gadgetsnow.com/computing/led-lights-can-damage-your-eyes study/articleshow/20084961.cms Assessed Apr 24, 2021
  4. Wikipedia, “Biological Effects of High-Energy Visible Light.” Wikimedia Foundation, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_effects_of_high-energy_visible_light  Assessed Apr 24, 2021
  5. Rebecca Stanborough, “What Is Blue Light, and How Does It Affect Our Eyes?” Healthline,  www.healthline.com/health/what-is-blue-light. Assessed Apr 24, 2021
  6. Chris Davis, “Projector vs. TV: Consideration to Eye Health.” ViewSonic Library, www.viewsonic.com/library/entertainment/projector-vs-tv-consideration-to-eye-health/ Assessed Apr 25, 2021 
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