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Published on April 11, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by


Movies are becoming a major pain in the eyes

As the world moves towards 3D technology, the future is fuzzy for some


"Real D" 3D glasses from the 3D movie theatres. Photo by Laura Fixman

The technology of 3D movies is infiltrating more and more domains. Now televisions and cell phones can be seen in 3D. Some may think that the cool effect is worth it and although they may complain about the few extra dollars, they’ll go see the 3D movies. For people like University of Waterloo student Siran Gao, it’s more than a financial inconvenience; it’s a real medical issue that can make watching a movie a painful experience.

As of now, eight films have been released in 3D for 2011 and there are 32 planned for the remainder of the year. This includes Cars 2, The Smurfs and the final installment of the Harry Potter saga. 3D T.V. has been on the market for about two years and they don’t need glasses for their effects to work. 3D phones are also creating a buzz in the industry. Although with the phone, the images merely float off the screen and you need to hold it away from you to see the effect.

Gao can see the 3D effects, but others can’t. It gives her a headache and occasionally makes her dizzy. She finds she can watch the majority of movies problem free, but near the end it gets overwhelming.

“Sometimes I have to take the glasses off for a while or I get too much of a headache,” Gao says.

Studies show between two and 12 per cent of the population have difficulty seeing the 3D effects. They may experience discomfort, or may be unable to see the effect. According to optometrist Gila Martow, this can happen for several reasons.
3D movies often work by having two images broadcast simultaneously, one for each eye. With the glasses, most people can alternate between the images in rapid succession in order to give the impression that it’s popping off of the screen.

“You need both your eyes to work together to see it,” Martow says. “There are a variety of usually minor eye problems that make that impossible.”

She says these problems can include strabismus, where the eyes aren’t properly aligned with each other, and amblyopia, more commonly known as lazy eye. She  says that this problem isn’t often serious, but it’s important to get checked out by an eye care professional.

Nintendo has recently responded to complaints about its 3DS handheld console causing headaches.
They said, in an official statement, ” The effects are short term and have no lasting effect; most people can continue after taking a break.”

The Nintendo 3DS, along with 3D phones and televisions, offer the option to go back to two dimensions. For now at least, most movies allow you to forgo the 3D option as well. There are some, however, who feel like they’re still missing out.

“It’s usually not that bad for me, but I’d rather not pay so much money to maybe get a headache,” Gao says.

Martow states the only people who will never see 3D movies are those who are blind in one eye, or who have only one eye.

“Either you get glasses to correct the underlying vision problem, or force yourself to use the eye that sees less clearly,” Martow says.

Although correction and detection of these kinds of problems is most effective by the age of two, Martow says that recent research debunked the rumour people over the age of seven can’t make an improvement.

“The treatments work at any age, so it’s never too late to learn to see 3D effects,” Martow says.

Going to the movies may be a painful experience since 3D is more popular than ever before, and that isn’t going to change.

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