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Watching 3D may help uncover eye disorders

Updated: May 19, 2022

Further to warnings over Christmas about the potential damage caused to under 6’s eyesight by the new Nintendo 3DS console, the College of Optometrists has published a press release suggesting that watching 3D may be beneficial as it may help to uncover eye disorders. Here’s what the College has to say;

The College of Optometrists offers advice to 6 million people affected

With 3D films and TV becoming more common place in the UK, the College of Optometrists is keen to reassure people that there is no evidence of any long term harm being caused by using 3D displays and indeed may be helpful in uncovering some subtle eye disorders.

When viewing 3D, the images your eyes see are artificially separated by the glasses that you wear. The majority of people don’t usually experience a problem as both eyes have similar sight capabilities and work together to send signals that are turned into a clear image by the brain. However, some people are unable to view 3D or find it uncomfortable or tiring after prolonged viewing. This may be because their eyes are misaligned and are not able to work together properly in order to perceive the depth that 3D viewing requires. This can be a sign of subtle eye disorders which may otherwise go undetected. These eye disorders may also cause difficulty when doing tasks such as reading so we would recommend that people who have difficulties watching 3D have a full eye examination to identify and correct any cause.

Dr Susan Blakeney from the College of Optometrists said: “Most people will be fine when watching 3D films or television and there is no evidence of any more long term harm being caused after watching 3D displays than there is with 2D ones. However, problems with the way your eyes work together can potentially result in headaches and dizziness when using visual display units or 3D displays and if you notice any problems which have not been investigated before it is wise to see your optometrist. As well as ensuring that your eyes are healthy your optometrist may be able to incorporate special lenses called prisms into your spectacles to improve your visual comfort.”

Dr Peter Howarth of Loughborough University is about to publish a review of the potential hazards of viewing 3-D in the College of Optometrist’s research journal Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics. Peter added: “Although people have reported experiencing symptoms when watching 3-D content, specifically headaches and eyestrain, there have been no studies whatsoever which have detected any permanent damage. Furthermore, stationary examples of these types of pictures have been around since Victorian times (Wheatstone stereoscopes), and films have been around since the craze for them in the middle of the last century. The normal eye is adaptable enough to accept small 3-D stereoscopic content without stress. It is only if there are large, prolonged effects that people experience symptoms of eyestrain.”


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