3D movies have been becoming big-time box office hits. While moviegoers report that they love to enter the world of the film through the 3D experience, doctors say that for eyes unaccustomed to watching 3D for hours every day, there are some dangers, including symptoms such as disorientation, dizziness, headache, nausea, fatigue, eye strain, and in rare cases, seizures.

How 3D Works

The 3D movie presents two slightly different perspectives of the same scene, superimposed but separated by a specific degree. The 3D glasses have a polarized filter that separates those two images, allowing each to be seen by a different eye. In the brain, the two images are fused, creating the illusion of depth.

Health experts say that symptoms of nausea, headache, and fatigue may result because 3D causes the eyes to move in an unnatural way. For those with certain underlying conditions, such as a weak eye muscle or a weak fusional mechanism, the artificial environment of a 3D movie strains the ocular system, so when they take off the glasses it can be disorienting. In other words, if you have a condition where your eyes have trouble coordinating, your brain is sending extra impulses to keep your eyes in alignment--and this can leave you feeling fatigued, motion sick, and dizzy.

Other experts report that when you're watching an extremely realistic movie in 3D, but sitting still, your brain processes a false sense of movement. It is these conflicting messages, they say, that can lead to the nausea and headaches associated with motion sickness.

If you are a die-hard movie fan, here are some tips to help you make it through the 3D experience without feeling sick:

  • If you have eye challenges, you may benefit from taking a dramamine or other motion-sickness medication before seeing a 3D film.
  • If you haven't been to the eye doctor lately, get a full eye exam before hitting the theater.

Note: If you have watched at 3D movie lately and experienced some symptoms of nausea, dizziness, or headache, this may be an indication that you need to visit the eye doctor for an exam. Make an appointment.


Gardner, Amanda. "Some People Can't Stomach the New 3-D Movies." HealthDay News. 8 Apr. 2010. Web. 1 May 2010. http://health.msn.com/health-topics/vision/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100256810

Grifantini, Kristina. "Is 3D Bad for You?" Technology Review. 5 Apr. 2010. http://technologyreview.com/computing/24976/page1/