Are There Any Unhealthy Side Effects to Watching 3D?

Samsung UN55HU8550 LED/LCD 4K 3D UHD TV - Photo - Front View - Garden
Photo of the front view of the Samsung UN55HU8550 4K 3D UHD TV - Garden Image.

Photo © Robert Silva

With 3D for the home being offered by movie studios and TV makers, academic discussion about the short and long-term effects of watching 3D is getting more attention. Although there haven't been any comprehensive studies done to determine if watching 3D on regular basis is really harmful, there are some that have done work in 3D technology that are sounding some health and safety alarms.

For one interesting perspective on the potential health and safety effects of continued 3D viewing, check out a study commissioned by Samsung that reveals potential eye-strain factors under certain setup conditions and how the content is displayed. Also, for an alternate view, check out the reports from Gamasutra.

Frankly, although some consumers may experience varying degrees of discomfort from watching 3D TV for an extended period of time, and persons that do have motion or eyesight disorders should be cautious when viewing 3D, I think Samsung's Disclaimer, which is similar to those provided with most 3D TV user guides, as well as displayed on the TV screen before 3D movie content is displayed, or is accessible via the TV's onscreen menu system, is a little overboard. However, in this era of excessive phony litigation, it may be that Samsung is just trying to cover their butts.

One suggestion when shopping for a 3D TV is to compare the comfort of viewing 3D images between those TVs that utilize Active Shutter Glasses vs Passive Polarized Glasses.

Some consumers may be sensitive to the flickering (which is supposed to be non-detectable) present in active shutter glasses and may find the passive system provides a more comfortable viewing experience. Also, keep in mind that viewing 3D is not intended to be an all-hours experience. Limiting 3D viewing to "high-profile" content, such as a movie or sporting event is fine - but it is not intended for the viewer to watch all TV programming in 3D. 3D is just one of the options you have for viewing TV, just like some programs are in high definition and some aren't, and some movies are in B&W, and some are in color.

However, in addition to the debate over whether viewing 3D results in any discomfort or side effects, some people may not be able to see 3D. For more details on that aspect of 3D viewing, read the report from Justin Slick,'s Guide to 3D: ​Why Doesn't 3D Work for Some People?