Recently a parent put the photograph below on Facebook and asked “Does anyone with or child with aniridia sit this close to the TV to watch it?”
There was a great set of responses, from all over the world, which are summarised below.
Everyone reported that they/their child sits very close to the screen. Sometimes it is closer than in the photo, sometimes further away, depending up on their visual acuity.
It might be thought that a larger screen would be suitable. This didn’t appear to be the case. In fact often the opposite was true. People with aniridia are usually severely short sighted, so seeing detail at distance is the problem. Enlarging the detail and increasing the distance does not really help and is problematic too.
Katie said “I find that making something twice as big doesn’t necessarily mean I can sit twice as far from it. So even with a large TV I am tempted to sit close. This means if the TV is too large I can’t see all of it at the same time.”
Several people felt that actually small screen on iPads and phones were preferable, to the extent that they don’t use a TV at all.
“Now I have an iPad and can hold it right up to my eye, I rarely ever switch on the TV these days!!”
“Ana didn’t bother with TV till almost 3 years of age, and she prefers to watch Disney on my phone”
“Liam doesn’t even like to watch TV – he prefers his iPad and he holds it a few inches from his face. He sometimes watches the same thing on his iPad that we’re watching on TV! It’s perfect for him. And I love that the other kids aren’t yelling at him to get out of the way when he stands in front of the TV!”
Blocking the view of other people is a common problem. Jenny said “My sisters were constantly shouting ‘Get your head out the way!’ at me when we watched TV together. They would watch from the comfort of the sofa and I sat on the floor!”
Jean commented: “We have had 2 TVs in our lounge since Max – now 13 – was about 3. He has his own TV with a comfortable chair in front of it. It helps him to be able to sit as close as he wants and the other kids and parents don’t have to try and see around him. A practical thing that made it much easier for all of us.”
Jessica said “I used to sit pretty close when I was a kid until I got a hand held monocular when I was 13. When I use it I can sit on the couch like a normal person and watch TV.” However other people reported that this practice was too tiring.
While the floor seems a common place to watch from, a few have found special solutions:
“We got Carson a bean bag, one that’s kind of upright with a back”
“My son sits on the entertainment centre itself so he is right next to the TV!”
“John sits front and centre on a chair I had made for him to reach the exact height of the TV set. I didn’t like him sitting lower holding his neck back.”
The favoured positioning also varied, from central to left or right. “Femke is left eye dominant. She has her own place on the left side of the screen” said Koosje. Jenny explained “I sit side on, rather than facing it, and tilt my head to the left (TV to the right of me) as that’s the best position for my nystagmus (null point). I only have sight in my right eye though. I know children who practically sit upside down to watch the TV as that suits their null point best.
High definition (HD) TVs were not reported to be better than non-HD models. Katie said “I can’t really see the difference between them and ordinary TVs. I think that is because my eyes aren’t capable of seeing the extra details they show, not unless I got really, really close.”
People with aniridia usually do not have stereoscopic vision – the ability to see in the 3D. The reaction to 3D TVs and flims then was at best indifferent, at worse nauseous:
“I have no problem with the 3D at the cinema or the passive glasses systems, but the active glasses systems give me a headache.” – Andrew.
“I visited the temporary SKY 3D tent at Waterloo station about a year ago, and briefly watched something on 3DTV. Within a couple of minutes I was starting to get a headache.” – Keith.
“I went on a motion ride recently and wore the 3D glasses to stop the picture looking blurry.” – Beth.
“I don’t think the 3D effect really worked for me because the vision in one of my eyes is so much better than the other. 3D works by projecting two slightly different images in each eye but the vision in my bad eye is too blurred to notice the difference between the two images so what I see is just the image in my good eye anyway. It didn’t give me a headache though.” – Katie
The best advice overall came from parent Shannon: “Whenever we have bought a new TV, we let Katherine tell us which screen is easiest to see and/or the best for her vision.”
What are your experiences of watching TV? Let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook discussion.