3D is dangerous?

WARNING: 3D Video Hazardous to Your Health headline is a bit sensational. But it is not the only one this kind of headline.
The 3D Video Hazardous to Your Health article tells that prolonged viewing of 3D video may be even more harmful than the consumer electronics industry wants you to know. Especially for children. Nintendo unveils 3DS and quickly follows-up with a statement about dangers to children under 7 playing with the company’s new portable gamer. Samsung has also given warnings on their 3D TVs. These warnings come after years of industry spin and cover ups.

Do you remember in the mid-90s when virtual reality headsets were going to be the next big thing? I remeber that time well. Do you wonder why the whole technology just sort of… went away? With a working VR Headset almost ready for market, Sega had the product tested by a third party lab, The lab at Stanford came back to Sega with dire warnings about the hazards of prolonged use of this technology. SRI warned Sega: “You Cannot Give This To Kids!”. The results of SRI’s research have been published and there is an unclassified document from the defense department of Australia that says there are a variety of “…unintended psychophysiological side effects of participation in (3D) virtual environments.”

Problems of stress on the visual system have been most obvious in HMDs. While poor engineering design or incorrect calibration for the user can be a source of visual stress, but there are also other problems. Current stereoscopic VR displays provide an illusion of depth by providing each eye with a separate 2D image on a fixed focal plane. The mechanisms of binocular vision fuse the images to give the 3D illusion. Because there is no image blur, the eyes must make a constant accommodative effort. But at the same time the images stimulate a changing vergence angle with changes in apparent depth, so that the normal cross-linked relationship in normal viewing system is disrupted. The problem applies to all stereoscopic displays. Within certain limits the visual system can adapt. What has been shown in several studies is that short-term exposure to virtual enviroments with stereoscopic displays has produced changes in heterophoria (latent squint), where the visual axes of the eyes deviate from their usual position. These objective changes are associated with reports of subjective symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain or momentary double vision. Longer exposures result in greater severity of symptoms overall.

Stereoscopic vision begins developing when we first start using our eyes and is generally considered complete by the time we’re around six years old. There is a condition in children called strabismus or lazy-eye; it’s an abnormal alignment of the eyes in which the eyes don’t focus on the same object and depth perception is compromised. Anyone who learned the technique that allows them to peer into stereograms has taught themselves a temporary form of lazy-eye. The modern digital 3D effect using glasses makes this same effect effortless. Your eyes are invited or forced not to properly focus in order to get the full effect of eye-popping 3D. Children under seven are at risk of strabismus.

Going to a 3D movie each month probably won’t hurt anyone’s vision, especially adults. Some people report being temporarily disoriented when walking out of a 3D movie. The warning suggests that some 3-D TV viewers could become so disoriented that they could fall and hurt themselves. Going to the odd 3D movie probably won’t hurt anyone unless you fall when walking out of the movie theatre. Going to a 3D movie each month probably won’t hurt anyone’s vision, especially adults.

However, if we introduce the 3D effect into the home, we dramatically increase our exposure. We could sit at home with our new 3D HDTV and watch non-stop real or upconverted 3D for days. Marathon video game sessions in 2D are already difficult on the eyes, how about a marathon video game session in 3D? Some people sit around watching 6 or more hours of TV a day. What happens when that becomes 3D TV viewing?

Samsung issues warnings about 3-D TV: Pregnant women, drunk people and “those who are sleep deprived” should not watch 3-D television because of potential health issues, electronics manufacturer Samsung says on its Web site. The company also says people at risk for stroke or epileptic seizures should consult a medical professional before watching TV in three dimensions. The warning suggests that some 3-D TV viewers could become so disoriented that they could fall and hurt themselves. “Viewing in 3-D may cause disorientation for some viewers,” the warning says.



  1. Sol Strehl says:

    I think diferrent because my friends and family use another brand.It’s relaxing and i love it’s very much.But next 3D Products I am going to consider this 3D stuffs which you present.Appreciate!!!

  2. Certified Nursing Assistant says:

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  6. Tomi says:

    The most common complaint about 3D is that the glasses give you a headache, but that’s not actually true. It’s not the technology’s fault, it’s really the content that can cause these problems. It’s easy to make 3D but it’s hard to make it good that isn’t going to cause eyestrain.

    With 3d movies, since the screen is still flat, only one item can be in focus at any given time. The items in focus are those in the plane where the action is typically taking place, but sometimes something interesting is happening in the background. Try to focus on something that’s out-of-focus in the background. Attempts to view the background have you focusing on something that will never come into focus because they are permanently rendered out of focus. This can cause eyestrain and an uncomfortable visual feeling. That’s because it’s not real 3D. At best, its a fragile optical illusion that sometimes works quite and sometimes not so well.


  7. tomi says:

    To what widget you are referring to ?

  8. Why 3D doesn’t work « Tomi Engdahl’s ePanorama blog says:

    [...] Never Will comments at Slashdot. Read also my earlier 3D postings Why Bad 3D Gives You Headaches, 3D is dangerous?, 3D Vision Problems and 3-D is coming [...]

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  11. IT Services Cracow says:

    3D is dangerous if you are sitting all the day and watch TV. Many corporate people, espesially from IT world, from finance world watch on screen and seek different analysis.

    People should to make breaks when watching 3D or TV:-)

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  16. Drew Chiesa says:

    I used the product, and no it didn’t harm anything at all.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Magic Leap clashes with Microsoft over augmented reality health risks

    Magic Leap CEO says Microsoft’s HoloLens headset may be unsafe, but he ultimately raises more questions about the potential risks of immersing ourselves in 3D worlds.

    Microsoft’s recently announced futuristic holographic headset may pose a health risk to users, according to the CEO of Magic Leap, a secretive augmented-reality startup and newfound rival to Microsoft in the burgeoning AR space.

    Microsoft’s HoloLens uses an input system that does not fully replicate the physical connections between our eyes and our brains, possibly resulting in permanent effects on your brain, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz wrote Tuesday in a Reddit AskMeAnything thread when asked about the device. As such, Abovitz recommended avoiding use of the headset and others like it.

    “There are a class of devices (see-through and non-see-through) called stereoscopic 3D. We at Magic Leap believe these inputs into the eye-brain system are incorrect — and can cause a spectrum of temporary and/or permanent neurologic deficits,” Abovitz wrote, when asked how his company’s technology compares to the HoloLens.

    “I personally experienced a number of these stereoscopic-3D issues — and would not wear these devices — especially knowing that digital light-field systems are on the way and safe,” he added.

  18. Amm Robert says:

    well !!! i prefer 4D then 3D cuz 4D is more powerful then 3D

  19. oilyhairCare says:

    well 3D or not 3D is the question but we will move on with all 1+N D

  20. Ma Ryta says:

    For me I think if we watch much 3D we probably break our eye soon.

  21. evannak says:

    are you serious? any reference i can take a look on?

  22. Dara Van says:

    I think you got confuse and i do not support your idea because no references.

  23. Connie says:

    I never liked 3D anyway !

  24. monerath says:

    3D is not my favorite. Thanks for your sharing!

  25. Sarah says:

    I hate 3D movies. They are horrible on the eyes.

  26. Eva Mali says:

    To me I think if we watch 3D like movie is good feeling but if we spend much time it can be probably break our eye soon.

  27. Mark says:

    Unfortunately, I like watching 3D movies when it comes to the action film. I think going to the cinema 2 times per month won’t harm my eyes. :)

  28. Jen Hoo says:

    For me 3D is my favorite, I don’t know how much it can break my eye soon or not I don’t know.

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  31. yamibest says:

    3D may be ike movie is good feeling but I think VR is the coming futures within 10 years.

  32. Maten says:

    Really ? i think technology is have both advantage and disadvantage ,
    Really appreciate thanks for sharing the value information !

  33. Sara Joes says:

    I love 3d but I don’t know how much it can break my eye. I’m still love it

  34. Jose says:

    I never know about this before.Thank for sharing this information.

  35. Jeremy says:

    i like to watch 3d movie.But i never know 3d is danger.Thank for sharing.

  36. Manita says:

    Oops! after reading this useful article, I have to be careful my kids from watching too much the 3D video. As you mentioned that viewing of 3D video may be even more harmful than the consumer electronics devices. Thanks for sharing this inspiring article!

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Optical mapping 3D display takes the eye fatigue out of virtual reality

    Virtual-reality (VR) headsets display a computer-simulated world, while augmented-reality (AR) glasses overlay computer-generated elements with the real world; although AR and VR devices are starting to hit the market, they remain mostly a novelty because eye fatigue makes them uncomfortable to use for extended periods. A new type of 3D display could solve this long-standing problem by greatly improving the viewing comfort of these wearable devices.

    Measuring only 1 x 2 in., the new optical mapping 3D display module, developed by Liang Gao and Wei Cui of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, increases viewing comfort by producing depth cues that are perceived in much the same way we see depth in the real-world.

    An optical mapping display creates a 3D image. An OLED screen is divided into four subpanels that each create a 2D picture. The spatial-multiplexing unit (SMU) shifts each of these images to different depths while aligning the centers of all of them with the viewing axis. Through the eyepiece, each image appears to be at a different depth.

    The researchers are now working to further reduce the system’s size, weight and power consumption. “In the future, we want to replace the spatial light modulators with another optical component such as a volume holography grating,”

  38. Eng Som says:

    I feel worry about that.

  39. Jame Mou See says:

    I really not sure after read your article but for me I’m very hard to see anything after watch 3D.

  40. best 3d pen says:

    Current stereoscopic VR displays provide an illusion of depth by providing each eye with a separate 2D image on a fixed focal plane. The mechanisms of binocular vision fuse the images to give the 3D illusion. Because there is no image blur, the eyes must make a constant accommodative effort.

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  43. Bright says:

    Not all are dangerous. But your points is helpful and made us understand more about 3D.

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