Big Screen, Small Sight

Person using a computer screen and tablet

Sometimes seeing the big picture. . . can lead to a BIG headache!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Watching the latest X-Men movie on a huge screen? Yes, please! But stare at TVs too long and our eyes and head begin to ache. Do bigger screens cause more visual fatigue?  

Chun-Chia Lee at Minnan Normal University, China, wanted to look deeper. Lee recruited about twenty millennials and hooked them up to brain-wave-measuring headsets. The participants then watched a 2-D animation on a phone, tablet, or computer. The researchers monitored their brain waves and measured their level of fatigue. 

Results? Smaller screens correlated with LESS fatigue! Why? Lee thinks it’s because bigger screens provide that much more visual stimulus.

Truth is, too much screen time of ANY size can make us nervous and tired. With so many digital devices on the market, we need to be careful!  

So — phone or laptop for your next Netflix binge? I say — neither! Go out for a walk and get some ice cream instead. Good for your eyes AND your soul! 

References: Lee, C.C., Chiang, H.S., & Hsiao, M.H. (2020). Effects of screen size and visual presentation on visual fatigue based on regional brain wave activity. The Journal of Supercomputing.