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Effects of 3D Movies on Eyesight

Movies makers have been producing films in three dimensions (3D) for decades now, but scientists are just starting to realize the effects these films can have on a person’s eyesight. Several recent studies have shown that 3D movies can elicit previously unknown problems with someone’s eyesight.

The quickest way for a person to notice these problems is by watching a poorly made 3D movie. This includes movies that were not originally made for this type of viewing, but were later converted and rereleased. However, even top-quality 3D movies can bring about problems. People’s eyes work naturally to converge when they’re looking at something nearby and diverge when they’re looking at something far away. Three dimensional movies violate this norm by bringing perception that seems far away right up to the face of a viewer.

Certain 3D movies are created to allow a viewer to focus on one object at a time, and these movies are far better for a person’s vision due to the fact that the eyes don’t have to continuously adjust to unnatural settings. Even these movies, however, can still cause headaches, eye fatigue and nausea. These symptoms are caused by the close proximity to a viewing screen and the apparent distance of whatever is on that screen. For this reason, a person may experience fewer visual problems if they watch a 3D movie at a theater rather than at home. Screens at movie theaters actually are situated in the distance, so this allows the eyes to focus more normally than if the screen were nearby (ie. home TV screen).

A person who repeatedly experiences headaches, fatigue, or motion sickness when watching 3D movies should consult an optometrist to determine what is happening, and if it can be helped.  Many times people have vision problems (like astigmatism) that can be fixed with eyeglasses, and other times people can have more advanced problems with their eye working together properly.  This is what optometrists call problems with “binocularity”.  There are times eyeglasses and/or vision therapy can help with these symptoms.  An optometrist will be able to diagnose and recommend appropriate treatment.