3-D movies: thrills and ills

July 6, 2012 By Randy Dotinga, HealthDay Reporter
3-D movies: thrills and ills
Young adults at higher risk for motion sickness than older viewers, study found.

(HealthDay) -- "Avatar," "Hugo" and other 3-D movies thrill many viewers, but also make some feel sick, a new study finds.

and those sitting close to the screen are more likely than older viewers to experience blurred vision, nausea and other while "immersed" in a 3-D [three-dimensional] film, the researchers found.

"3-D movies are only good as long as you're not feeling terrible," said study lead author Shun-Nan Yang, a senior scientist at Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Ore.

Symptoms, which are brief and temporary, are related to visual disturbances and motion sickness. But they can be minimized -- at least if you're watching a 3-D movie at home -- by sitting farther back and gaining a wider viewing angle, Yang said.

Also, an eye doctor may help you resolve any vision issues, Yang added.

Hollywood produced many 3-D movies, which enhance the sense of , in the 1950s, and even then they could make people queasy. As technology has advanced over the last decade or so, 3-D films have boomed in popularity, but the motion-picture industry has yet to quash the factor.

The new study, funded by the Intel, is the latest to look at how 3-D affects people.

The researchers recruited 203 teens and adults to watch the 2009 family film "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" on a 55-inch LCD television. Some watched it in regular 2-D; others viewed it in 3-D. Viewers were seated at different distances and viewing angles, and questioned about previous viewing symptoms, and any symptoms during or after seeing the film.

Twelve percent of the 2-D viewers reported an increase in symptoms of discomfort, compared with 20 percent of the 3-D viewers. Those who watched the 3-D version were likely to report more eye pain, pulling sensation in the eye, blurred vision, , dizziness and disorientation.

Viewers aged 24 to 34 were bothered more by the 3-D images than older viewers, the researchers found.

The most severe problems reported were headaches and nausea, Yang said. Symptoms could increase within 15 minutes after watching the film, he said, although the problems didn't last into the next day.

Watching movies in 3-D is visually challenging because the eyes must adjust to the fixed closeness of the screen and the seeming distance of the 3-D images, he said. If you're in a movie theater, he said, you may experience fewer symptoms while watching 3-D than viewing the film at home.

Older viewers were less sickened by 3-D than younger viewers, possibly because they're less sensitive to visual stimulation or the deterioration of their eyes makes it easier to handle the near/far discrepancy, he said. Younger viewers reported more "immersion" in the 3-D movie.

Yang said it's a mystery why many have visual or physical complaints after watching ordinary movie images on TV. Those people also said they suffered eye problems when they used computer monitors, he said.

If you're watching a 3-D movie at home, Yang said, you might avoid symptoms by changing where you sit to obtain a different viewing angle or adjusting the brightness of the screen or the lighting in the room. "When you sit closer, you are going to perceive the movie as more real, but you'll have more symptoms," he said.

One solution for children bothered by watching 3-D movies is to let them take off their 3-D glasses and simply watch the blurred movie, said eye doctor Dr. James Salz, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Southern California and spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

He's tried that with his own grandchildren, ages 4 to 7. "They don't complain as they seem more comfortable," he said.

The study appears in the July issue of Optometry and Vision Science.

Explore further: Smartphone making your eyes tired?

More information: For more about vision problems, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


Related Stories

Smartphone making your eyes tired?

July 21, 2011
Several reports indicate that prolonged viewing of mobile devices and other stereo 3D devices leads to visual discomfort, fatigue and even headaches. According to a new Journal of Vision study, the root cause may be the demand ...

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.