Does 3D Harm Your Eyes? No Say Eye Doctors

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Mon, 05/30/2011 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

According to a study regarding attitudes toward 3D content commissioned by VSP Vision Care the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 56 million members  one quarter of parents erroneously believe that watching 3D content – such as movies television shows and video games – will harm their child’s health and/or vision. While only 6.5 percent of parents identified that their children experienced discomfort watching 3D content the study found they still cited major concerns about the negative effects consuming this content had on their children’s health and vision. Of those parents who expressed concerns the study showed: 70 percent believe 3D will negatively impact short-term or long-term vision 69 percent believe 3D will cause headaches or dizziness 65 percent believe 3D will cause nausea 64 percent believe 3D will negatively impact visual development With the popularity of 3D showing no signs of slowing down – 49 percent of parents took their child to see a 3D movie last year and 56 percent plan on taking them to a 3D film this coming year – survey results found that some parents are misinformed about how 3D technology actually affects vision and whether or not it causes short- or long-term damage. “There are many misconceptions surrounding the true impact that 3D plays on a child’s health and vision ” says Dr. Justin Bazan a VSP provider based in Brooklyn New York. “There is no medical evidence that 3D is harmful to a child’s visual development or that it causes short- or long-term damage.  To the contrary 3D technology can actually help detect underlying vision problems which are often the cause of the discomfort some 3D viewers experience.” Bazan says “If a child has difficulty appreciating 3D effects or experiences discomfort while watching 3D it’s a good time to take him or her to the eye doctor for a comprehensive annual eye exam. This holds true for adults too.” Adults in the study showed a much higher level of discomfort while watching 3D content compared to children.  Nearly one-third (28 percent) of adults experienced discomfort while watching 3D.  Headaches (32 percent) and dizziness (22 percent) were the top two complaints followed by nausea (14 percent) and blurry vision (10 percent). Bazan says one of his patients is an aspiring young filmmaker who brought up the topic of 3D during a recent exam. While the young man had expressed no vision problems associated with watching 3D he was also not that impressed with it. Bazan conducted an eye exam and determined that the young man’s right eye was only half as strong as his left. In other words he couldn’t see 3D dimensions correctly in the real world let alone at the movies. Bazan says that after a period of therapy the discrepancy was corrected and the young filmmaker can now appreciate a true sense of depth. While Bazan concludes that viewing 3D will do no harm a person’s eyes he acknowledges that most everyone may experience some eye fatigue from watching 3D over an extended period. If that happens to you he offers this advice. “When viewing any screen – from a computer to a hand-held device to a movie theater screen – moderation is always best.  3D is no exception.  Symptoms associated with viewing 3D content such as headaches dizziness and nausea are short-term and will only last while watching the 3D content ” says Bazan.  “A good technique to mitigate discomfort while watching 3D is to follow the 20/20/20 rule.  Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest.” Knowledge Networks conducted the nationwide online survey.  The survey elicited 1 010 responses from April 11 to May 3.  Due to the sample size the study says the results are representative of the whole U.S. population. VSP Vision Care’s parent company VSP Global 
 has a blog with more information about the effects of 3D on vision: