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Can watching 3D TV or Movies Hurt Your Eyes or Make You Sick?

Watching 3D TV and movies can affect your eyes and health Starting in 2010, 3D televisions have finally made their way into home, providing further enhancement to home-based viewing†by adding a third dimension to moving pictures on high-definition television sets using a specific stereoscopic effect. However, with the advent of this home-based 3D TV technology come several other concerns for the consumers. The most important of such concerns is that of body health in general and eye health in particular.

It has been estimated that the average child today will have watched an estimated 7 to 10 years of television by the time they are 70 years old. Several studies and extensive research have been done on the physiological, psychological and pathological (disease related) impact of TV and other media channels on children. This article, however, specifically addresses the issue of eye health with reference to 3D TV and movie watching.

What is 3D viewing?
Viewing 3D TV programs, movies or games that allow consumers to enjoy close-to-real-life three-dimensional pictures, scenes and clips with a highly entertaining experience.

With a 3D TV or to watch anything in 3D, you also need some accessories such as 3D glasses that are required to receive the signal from the television to split the display and send some information to the left eye and some information to the right eye creating a stereoscopic image. The brain perceives this stereoscopic image as a 3D image.

TV and our eyes
Remember, as we age, even healthy eyes become more sensitive to glare. They require higher contrasts to see than they did when we were younger, as well as higher illumination levels. The need for higher light levels also means that control of sources of light is especially important.

For example, working at a computer can be very absorbing and create a lot of eyestrain. You tend to concentrate on what is on the screen to the exclusion of all else, focus for long periods at the same distance, and try to take in the entire screen instead of shifting and seeing one part best. All of these things result in eyestrain, and for many people, the eyestrain is severe.

Television screens can have similar effects to computer screens except you can sit further back, which relieves some of the tendency to become absorbed. Any detail-oriented or high-stress work can cause eyestrain in the ways described above whether or not you work at a computer.

Is watching 3DTV from a close range harmful?
The effects of 3D viewing are currently being investigated. It is recommended that viewing distance should be three times or more the height of the screen. Experts also recommend sitting with oneís eyes on a level with the screen. The brightness of the room, angle, and television placement should be fine as they are already.

Should you watch 3D television or movies in the dark room?
Contrary to the popular belief (and as opposed to the movie theater environment), most lighting engineers and vision specialists recommend that the room have soft overall lighting for watching 3D television. When the room is totally dark, the contrast between the 3D television screen and the surrounding area is too great for comfortable and efficient vision. When the room is softly illuminated, this undesirable contrast is kept to a minimum. However, to watch in 3D mode, you need to put the 3D Active Glasses on and press the power button on top of the glasses. Fluorescent lighting may cause a flickering effect and direct sunlight may affect the operation of the 3D glasses. Turn off all fluorescent lighting and block sources of direct sunlight before watching in 3D mode.

Is there any safe, recommended distance to watch 3D TV / Movies?
Watching any TV while sitting too close to the screen for an extended period of time may damage your eyesight and the same applies to the 3D viewing as well. Therefore, as mentioned above, the ideal viewing distance should be at least three times the height of the TV screen. It is recommended that the viewer's eyes are level with the screen.

Is 3D viewing more risky for your children?
Experts now believe that children and teenagers may be more susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D and should be closely supervised when viewing these images. Even several electronic companies have issued warnings to the customers regarding the same. It is believed that, in addition to stroke and epilepsy, 3D TV could also result in headaches, eye fatigue/pain, and disorientation. If you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately stop watching 3D pictures and consult a medical specialist:

Parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults.

Hints and tips for better 3D television viewing

  • You must make sure your 3D television set is properly installed and the antenna properly adjusted. You should place the set to avoid glare or reflections from lamps, windows, or other bright sources.

  • Donít forget to adjust brightness and contrast controls to individual taste and comfort.

  • Have the set at eye level, avoid looking up or down at the picture.

  • Rest occasionally by briefly looking away from the picture around the room or out the window.

  • Wear your glasses for distant vision in addition to the glasses recommended for 3D viewing.

  • Special attention should be paid to where the television set is placed, so that there is no reflected light from either the windows or light fixtures.

  • If you notice that your eyes water or if there is other visual discomfort while watching 3D television, it can be an indication of a visual problem which needs professional attention. Some viewers should have special glasses to correct their vision for the viewing distance.

  • Practice short swings when you are on the phone or driving in your car. Leave yourself notes to remind you to blink, sun, palm, shift, swing, dodge, see halos, or practice healthy reading habits.

  • Set limits on 3D TV viewing by offering other alternatives to TV. Decide on specific programs and set a good example yourself.

  • Viewing in 3D mode may cause disorientation for some viewers. DO NOT place your television near open stairwells, cables, balconies or other objects that may cause you to injure yourself.

While more research and studies need to be done to evaluate the complete general and eye health effects associated with the 3D Viewing, taking precautions is essential at this stage. As is with other TVs and computer monitors, close concentration on the 3D television screen over an excessive period of time may result in general body and eye fatigue. Therefore, you must always remember that the combination of regular, comprehensive eye examinations and quality environmental lighting can enhance your visual experience and maintain productivity for a lifetime.

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