User's Manual: Eyes

Embarrassing Questions: 3-D Movies Give Me Headaches! What's the Deal?

headache-3d-movies
Q: I sometimes get a headache when I go to 3-D movies. Are these types of movies bad for me?

A: Chances are you won't suffer any long-term damage. But, honestly, there hasn't been much research done on the topic, so we don't know for sure. Current 3-D technology works by superimposing multiple flashing images on a screen. When your eyes and brain merge those images into one (with the help of special filtering glasses), your brain interprets it as depth-the third dimension. For some people, however, this 'tricking' of the brain can put strain on the eyes and cause headaches, nausea, or even a feeling of seasickness or disorientation.

As an extra precaution, several manufacturers of 3-D-capable TVs include warnings advising pregnant women, the elderly, children, and those suffering from serious medical conditions to avoid or limit 3-D viewing-just to be safe. Others who should stick to 2-D, according to manufacturers: people who have been drinking, those who are sleep-deprived, and anyone with a history of seizures.

If you're watching a 3-D movie and feel a headache coming on, blink a few times and look away from the screen to help your brain and eyes readjust. If that doesn't work and your head starts to pound, find the nearest exit. Movies are supposed to provide escape-not agony.

For more answers to embarrassing questions, check our out new book, What the Yuck?!