Seen any good 3-D movies lately? While the illusion of objects flying in and out of the screen and around your head can make the viewing experience exciting for many people, donning those silly blue and red glasses can cause others to suffer headaches, dizziness and nausea.
If you are among those who are a little disoriented after watching a 3-D movie, it could be a sign of a minor eye problem such as a muscle imbalance, depth perception trouble, or lazy eye. Normally, the brain deals with these types of problems naturally, but the extra work required to process those images on the big screen can lead to an unpleasant viewing experience.
In normal vision, each eye sees things at a slightly different angle. The brain interprets this difference, and brings depth into focus. In an attempt to mimic this natural occurrence, 3-D movies are produced by setting up two cameras side by side, each recording the action from a slightly different angle. When you watch the film, you see two images projected onto the screen, one for your left eye and one for your right eye. Without 3-D glasses, the image on the screen looks blurry, but the glasses separate the images for each eye. When your brain puts these two images together, it makes one image that looks three-dimensional.
The problem for some people with eye trouble is that the images on-screen are not calibrated the same way that your eyes and your brain are. To process those images, your eyes must focus on the screen, which is emitting the light, and the images being projected. This forces the brain to work harder, and leads to discomfort.
For an in-depth look at how 3-D movies work, go to http://www.chevroncars.com/learn/arts-culture/how-do-3d-movies-work
New “Real 3-D” technology, including single digital projectors, polarization and advanced moviemaking techniques, make it easier on the brain and promise a more comfortable movie-going experience.
If you experience eyestrain, headaches, dizziness or nausea while watching a 3-D movie, see your eye doctor to determine the underlying cause. Meanwhile, here are some things you can try to help reduce the discomfort:
Sit in the center of the theater. The difference between the right and left images will be equal, requiring less effort for the eyes to focus.
Concentrate on whatever is right in front of you, instead of focusing too long on background details.
Let your eyes rest. Cover each eye for a few seconds every few minutes, or take off the 3-D glasses and focus on something other than the screen.
Finally, you can purchase 2-D glasses, which disable the 3-D effect, resulting in a two-dimensional image and eliminating the muscle strain that leads to headaches. These glasses are available online.
Have you ever experienced headache pain or other discomfort while watching 3-D movies? Do you avoid 3-D movies for this reason? Describe your experience.
Dr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin’s office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at http://www.vision-health.com.
Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.
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