Dvorak: 3D Bad For Your Eyes

John Dvorak:

The retailer had a Samsung 3D monitor on display with two pairs of those flapper glasses, comprised of LCDs that turn on an off with the pulses of the monitor, so one eye sees an image, then the other gets opened to see the image meant for its side.

This happens rapidly enough to fool the brain into forming a 3D image. I don’t want to get into the health effects, but the technology seems to have a negative impact on kids’ optic nerves. But this doesn’t seem to be a problem for the marketing people. There’s a “who cares?” attitude about the whole thing.

3D marketing folks might not even know there are potentially negative health effects on kids’ optic nerves. I didn’t know and I’m shocked. So I googled around a bit and came across an article by Crunchgear:

The flashing LCDs have been linked to epileptic seizures, among other things.

And there’s a bit more in-depth explanation:

What happens is this: having each eye being completely blocked out thirty or sixty times per second is the equivalent of having a high-frequency strobe going off in your face. You’re probably aware of the danger this presents to epileptics and others: seizures, nausea, and fatigue are not uncommon. Furthermore, though this hasn’t been adequately investigated to my knowledge, it seems to me that the constant strobing might result in fatigue of your iris and lens muscles, which are constantly receiving conflicting information.

Anyway, the point is that the visual lessons you learn can be unlearned. Yeah, it sounds kind of silly at first, but there are already reports of people having depth perception trouble after watching a 3D movie at home or in the theater. 3D gaming may even exacerbate the problem, since you’re not simply viewing a virtual 3D space but interacting with it. It’s conceivable that your visual system could become partly rewired in order to better understand how a 3D visual world can exist on a 2D physical plane.

My recommendation regarding 3D is this: it isn’t good enough in my opinion and the potential for harmful effects on your visual system seems to be there. Skip 3D for you and your kids, for now.