3D technology is redefining how people experience entertainment. The images are sharper, clearer and have an added dimension to make them appear closer to how they would appear in real life. Many movie producers and video game designers are incorporating this technology into their final product. 3D technology is also becoming more accessible at home through 3D television sets.
How do these increased 3D based entertainment options affect your vision? Are they safe to watch or does too much exposure to 3D imagery cause damage to eyesight over time? These are the questions facing eye care professionals and patients alike as 3D grows in popularity.
How does 3D affect your vision?
Watching 3D images causes a change in normal eye function. When you see a normal image, your eyes work in tandem with various muscles designed to help the eye move and bring the image into focus. 3D imagery causes these muscles to work separately.
Such a change in muscle movement can cause eye strain and fatigue to develop. This can lead to headaches, dizziness and nausea. The symptoms can feel quite similar to motion sickness you might get while riding in a car.
Watching 3D images has not been shown to cause permanent negative side effects. Sometimes, it can be a sign of another vision-related problem. Other times, it can be a result of temporary disorientation and sensory overload experienced by the brain.
Tips for watching 3D images
There is no reason to avoid going to a new summer blockbuster or playing the latest video game out of fear 3D imagery might damage your eyes. You can do a few simple things to make viewing 3D images easier on your eyes.
If you're at home, adjust brightness and contrast controls on the TV or computer screen and turn off any bright light sources that could create a glare. Keep the screen at eye level, so your eyes do not need to look up or down for extended periods.
When your eyes start feeling tired, take off the 3D glasses and give your eyes a rest. Take a few seconds to look elsewhere, blink or close your eyes. Eye strain or eye fatigue is less of a possibility if you give yourself breaks as needed.
Keep your TV screen or computer screen at a healthy distance. It will help focus less attention on the screen and give your eyes a chance to relax.
American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Are 3D Movies Bad for Your Eyes?” 2014.
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “The Medical Minute: Are 3D Movies and Games Bad for Your Eyes?” April 17, 2013.