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3-D: Those special effects can make you feel sick

These soccer fans look happy now, but some

These soccer fans look happy now, but some may feel dizzy, nauseated or headachy after wearing their 3-D glasses for awhile. (Jan. 31, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Thousands of people are packing movie theaters across the country to see the new "Alice in Wonderland" in 3-D, and dozens of them will likely leave with headaches.

That's not a criticism of the film, but a fact: Doctors say those with less-than-perfect eyesight can suffer nausea, blurred vision and dizziness from 3-D movies.

"The 3-D technology taps into our depth perception," said Dr. Lawrence Tychsen, ophthalmologist at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "To fully appreciate depth in a 3-D movie, you need equally clear vision in both eyes. Even a small misalignment could contribute to those symptoms of discomfort."

Tychsen said relatively minor conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or a lazy eye - if not treated with glasses or contacts - could trigger headaches and other side effects from 3-D visuals.

He estimated that up to 20 percent of the population could be affected - both adults and children.


The problem comes from so-called vision fatigue, caused when 3-D technology forces the eyes to make constant adjustments to focus on images that are simultaneously near and far away. Humans see in three dimensions, but the exaggerated imagery of 3-D movies can cause a strain in some, according to Jeffrey Anshel, a California optometrist who has researched vision fatigue in computer users.

Reports of vision fatigue popped up in recent months after the release of the 3-D blockbuster "Avatar," which has shattered box office records, raking in more than $2.5 billion worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time. Several theatergoers complained of motion sickness after watching James Cameron's epic sci-fi adventure, filmed with breakthrough digital 3-D techniques.


Despite causing discomfort in a small number of people, 3-D movies aren't going away anytime soon. Besides "Avatar," some of last year's other top-grossing films - "Up," "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and "Monsters vs. Aliens" - were 3-D, and more than a dozen other 3-D movies are scheduled for release this year and next.


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