3D Movies Cause Headaches – Shroff Eye Hospital Alert

18 Aug

Date: 18th August 2010

Author: Shroff Eye Hospital

About:  Shroff Eye Hospital is India’s First Eye Hospital that the Joint Commission International (International Division of JCAHO, USA) has given accreditation for excellence in patient care and health care delivery. Shroff Eye is also India’s first and only Wavelight Concerto 500 Hz LASIK center- The Worlds Safest and Fastest LASIK.

Contact: anand@shroffeye.org, www.shroffeye.org


It’s a headache? … While watching a 3D movie? … Rush for an eye check up!

The growing popularity of 3- D movies such as James Cameron’s “Avatar” has inspired many other films to follow suit. Even movies for children like “Shrek Forever After and Toy Story-3” are being made in 3-D. Not to forget the new 3D television sets introduced recently!

While new digital 3D technology has made the entire movie experience exciting, for some people with eye problems, a prolonged 3D session of focussing for 120 minutes or more on rich 3 D images may result in an aching head.

And, if it does, it could very well indicate an eye problem!

Why would a 3 D movie result in headaches?

For people with normal vision, this headache or disorientation after watching a 3 D film is usual because we have trained our eyes to see movies in 2 D. In 2 D films, we see images in one plane, so the focussing efforts of the eye are minimalistic. No strain, no headache!

However, 3 D images are stacked in front of or behind some other layer depending on what the filmmakers want you to see. Our eyes have a natural tendency to bring images which are closer or further away into focus. 3D camerawork frustrates this instinct. That translates into greater mental effort, making it easier to get a headache.

With 3D movies, people face an entirely new sensory experience.

To see the image in 3 D, you firstly need the image in each eye to be equally clear and then merge the slightly different images presented to each eye. Ultimately, it is what your brain is telling your eyes to do that gives you the headache by creating the extra workload. This is similar to doing long hours of work on the computer. Only, in the movies one cannot take a break, but the eyes and brain need to concentrate for longer. Under normal circumstances, this may not be an issue and may just be a temporary discomfort that one is able to overcome.

In the movie, you are meant to focus where James Cameron wants you to focus! That frame is ‘brought out, panned out or comes into focus’. So, if you start looking elsewhere, at a creature or an animal on the side, you cannot focus on it and this is what gives anyone a disoriented sometimes nauseous feeling. So, to avoid a headache you have to ‘go with the flow’.

Red Alert for Others

On the other hand, a long lasting headache, nausea, disorientation or complete inability to perceive 3 D images could well mean an eye problem, most being minor and treatable. People who do not have normal depth perception cannot see in 3D at all.

“If any person experienced headaches after watching 3 D films, I would not ignore this”, says Dr Shroff, of Shroff Eye Hospital, Mumbai. “It could be a red alert especially in case of children. This is like a ‘screening test’ for some eye conditions which often go undetected like anisometropia (unequal spectacle powers), strabismus (squint) or amblyopia (lazy eye). Many people with minor eye problems, such as a muscle imbalance remain undetected as our brain under normal circumstances adjusts naturally,” said Dr Shroff.  “Some conditions may be congenital, may develop later in life due to systemic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, myasthenia gravis or due to nerve palsies”.

What is the trick to avoid the headache?

Disregard your experience with 2D movies and stay focussed on whatever is right in front of you; that is what you should be paying attention to. By focussing too long on the background details is what triggers headaches and disorientation.

3 D Digital TV Technology

‘Avatar’ is a 3 D movie made carefully to reduce the earlier 3 D headache – inducing effects! Cameron designed this movie cleverly with smooth and slow moving images. Advanced moviemaking techniques were used to make the images easier on our brain and to allow the brain to keep up with the 3 D illusion.

However, as 3 D moves towards television, we suspect more viewers to have eye problems. Why? Because sports such as football which have quick movements will be even harder to stay focussed on and many more viewers are likely to be symptomatic!

Basically, people need to be aware that if they respond to 3 D in a different way than others, they need to get their eyes checked!

Open your eyes…to a whole new world!

Issued in public interest by Shroff Eye Hospital, Mumbai, India


One Response to “3D Movies Cause Headaches – Shroff Eye Hospital Alert”

  1. baby August 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    Nice website!!

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