Is the new 3D technology bad for your eyes?

PHOENIX - The thrill of seeing a movie in 3D is easy now days, with a slew of box office hits letting you don the special glasses to experience the special effects.

And it doesn't stop there. TV and gaming systems are now available to consumers to enjoy in the comfort of their own home.

We've come a long way since the red and blue glass of the 1950s. But given that as much as 30 percent of the population feels sick after watching a 3D movie, should we be concerned that it might have a long term affect on our eyes?

VSP Vision Care Optometrist, Dr. Tina Cooley-Staley, of Val Vista Vision Center answers all of our 3D-related questions.

SF: Can watching 3D entertainment cause long term damage for children or adults?

It's true that some people experience "vision sickness" symptoms like nausea, headaches, dizziness and fatigue when watching 3D. However, optometrists agree that 3D technology will not cause long term damage to the visual system and is safe when used in moderation.

In fact, many optometrists believe 3D technology can act as a diagnostic tool for undiagnosed visual problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed-eye).

SF: Can you explain the basic concepts behind 3D technology?

In order to see 3D, whether in the movies, on handheld devices or on a personal computer, each eye sees a slightly different image. Our brain uses its "binocular vision system" to put together the small discrepancies in the angle and distance of each image which creates the illusion of 3D. This mimics how we see in real life.

SF: What should you do if you are experiencing these symptoms or are unable to see in 3D?

Anyone with the mentioned symptoms should get a comprehensive eye exam to see if there is an underlying problem.

SF: What are the safest ways to enjoy 3D technology?

The single most important message is to consume 3D in moderation. To give you eyes a break, use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for at least 20 second.

VSP Vision Care is the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 57 million members.

For more information, visit www.vsp.com/3D.

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