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Film Opia

3-D Films can trigger headaches, which could be an underlying vision problem

While new digital 3D technology has made the entire movie experience exciting, for some people with eye problems, a prolonged 3D session of focussing for 120 minutes or more on rich 3 D images may result in an aching head.

And, if it does, it could very well indicate an eye problem!

Why would a 3D movie result in headaches?

For people with normal vision, this headache or disorientation after watching a 3D film is usual because we have trained our eyes to see movies in 2D. In 2D films, we see images in one plane, so the focussing efforts of the eye are minimalistic. No strain, no headache!

However, 3D images are stacked in front of or behind some other layer depending on what the filmmakers want you to see. Our eyes have a natural tendency to bring images which are closer or further away into focus. 3D camerawork frustrates this instinct. That translates into greater mental effort, making it easier to get a headache.

With 3D movies, people face an entirely new sensory experience.

To see the image in 3D, you firstly need the image in each eye to be equally clear and then merge the slightly different images presented to each eye. Ultimately, it is what your brain is telling your eyes to do that gives you the headache by creating the extra workload. This is similar to doing long hours of work on the computer. Only, in the movies one cannot take a break, but the eyes and brain need to concentrate for longer. Under normal circumstances, this may not be an issue and may just be a temporary discomfort that one is able to overcome.

In the movie, you are meant to focus where James Cameron wants you to focus! That frame is ‘brought out, panned out or comes into focus’. So, if you start looking elsewhere, at a creature or an animal on the side, you cannot focus on it and this is what gives anyone a disoriented sometimes nauseous feeling. So, to avoid a headache you have to ‘go with the flow’.

Red Alert for Others

On the other hand, a long lasting headache, nausea, disorientation or complete inability to perceive 3D images could well mean an eye problem, most being minor and treatable. People who do not have normal depth perception cannot see in 3D at all.

Basically, people need to be aware that if they respond to 3D in a different way than others, they need to get their eyes checked!