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Are 3D Movies Harmful to Your Eyes?

3D films have existed in some form for over a century but their popularity skyrocketed upon the release of the record breaking Avatar. With its impressive advances in 3D technology and effects, Avatar offered moviegoers an otherworldly experience by making the audience feel as if they were truly a part of the movie and its breathtaking scenery. Suddenly, it seemed there was an explosion in the amount of movies being offered as a 3D experience. As more and more movies continue to be released in 3D, as well as the rise in 3D TVs and gaming systems, some are beginning to wonder if there are potential health concerns to consider, especially in the area of eye health.

Is it Harmful to the Health of Your Eyes to View Movies or Games in 3D?

3D fanatics will be relieved to know it is not considered harmful to the health of your eyes to continue viewing media in 3D. Eye experts confirm that there are no known long term side effects related to 3D viewing. However, even though long term side effects are not an issue, there are possible short term annoyances some moviegoers and gamers might experience during 3D viewing.

Potential Short Term Side Effects From Viewing Movies or Games in 3D

Although it is uncommon to experience side effects when viewing a movie or game in 3D, some do report minor issues occurring. These possible side effects to be on the lookout for include:

  • Motion sickness / nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Eye Strain
  • Feeling tired and fatigued during or after the movie
  • Difficulty or inability to see the 3D images

The reason some experience difficulty or inability to view 3D images is due to the fact that a small amount of the population lacks the ability to use both of their eyes together in a way that correctly process 3D images. In rare cases, subjects cannot view 3D images at all due to having monocular vision. This means a person only uses one of their eyes to see so it is impossible to use both eyes to process the 3D effects.

Alleviating Side Effects During 3D Viewing

In terms of reducing or eliminating side effects, here are some helpful suggestions to test out:

  • Sit further from the screen in order to help prevent eye strain and headaches
  • Concentrate on the action rather than any parts of the frame that are out of focus (ex: if there is a character on the screen, focus on that aspect of the frame rather than any parts that are blurry or out of focus)
  • Set up an appointment for vision therapy with us and ask about binocular vision therapy. This specialized therapy will assist you in learning how to coordinate your eyes better which will result in less discomfort during 3D viewings.

If you do find yourself experiencing any issues or discomfort during 3D viewing, it is important to address this with your optometrist in order to ensure the overall health of your eyes. Experiencing a headache or eye strain is not only a hassle during the movie but, even more important, it may also indicate an underlying issue with your eye health.

Are There Potential Benefits of 3D Viewing?

In addition to providing a riveting movie or game experience, 3D viewing can actually serve as a way of bringing attention to potential eye problems. As mentioned above, if an individual is experiencing discomfort during a 3D movie, this could indicate an underlying problem that had previously been missed. By bringing up any concerns or negative experiences you have had with 3D viewing, an optometrist can help you detect a variety of eye issues that may  go undetected in a typical screening. If monitored and followed up on appropriately, 3D movies can actually serve as a tool for improving the health of your eyes.

Are There Any Special Eye Concerns in Children to be Aware of Regarding 3D?

Although 3D viewing appears to be safe, aside from the occasional short term issue, viewers should take slight precaution when allowing children to view movies or games in 3D. The younger the child, the less developed the eyes will be. There are no agreed upon time limits for 3D viewing in children, but, as with anything, moderation is essential. It is important to monitor your child’s exposure to 3D images and watch for any signs of eyestrain or adverse symptoms such as a headache or fatigue. If you discover your child experiencing any sort of strain or discomfort, contact us with your concerns.

Overall, if you are excited to see movies such as ‘The Boss Baby’ or ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in 3D this month, you can feel free to enjoy the experience without feeling guilty about harming your eye health in the long run. If you have any additional questions regarding the safety of 3D movies or if you experience any eye concerns, please contact us for further evaluation.