Can 3D at Home Make You Sick?

Can 3D at Home Make You Sick?

Apr 14, 2010

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons and are finally ready to plop down the thousands of dollars for the TV, Blu-ray player and glasses needed to be an early adopter of 3D technology at home. Not so fast, McSpendy. There is one more factor to consider before you try to make Avatar and other movies pop off your screen: the health and safety of your family. Yes, Samsung—a key manufacturer of 3D televisions and Blu-ray players—has issued health and safety information about 3D for its Australian buyers. Although Blu-ray Bob doesn’t know many Aussies, he is reasonably sure their eyes and brains work the same way as other humans and that the following information will appear on an American site soon.

The good news is that watching 3D at home won’t give you cancer or make you grow another eye, but the warnings on the Samsung site do read like those you might find before boarding a high-speed rollercoaster at Six Flags. It says that pregnant women, the elderly, people suffering from serious medical conditions, sleep deprivation or under the influence of alcohol should avoid 3D altogether. Are you paying attention, all of you old drunks who want to go to Pandora in your living room? The site goes on to say that “children and teenagers may be more susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D and should be closely supervised when viewing these images.” And you thought a 3D TV would get them out of your hair for a few hours—now you’ve got to watch them watch TV!

The cheery news continues: “Some viewers may experience an epileptic seizure or stroke when exposed to certain flashing images or lights contained in certain television pictures or video games. If you suffer from, or have a family history of epilepsy or strokes, please consult with a medical specialist before using the 3D function. Even those without a personal or family history of epilepsy or stroke may have an undiagnosed condition that can cause photosensitive epileptic seizures.”

So what are the warning signs, Samsung? “If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop viewing 3D pictures immediately and consult a medical specialist: altered vision, lightheadedness, dizziness, involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching, confusion, nausea, convulsions, cramps, disorientation.” Coincidentally, these are the same symptoms viewers might experience watching Where the Wild Things Are or The Lovely Bones.

OK, Samsung, just come out and say it. “Viewing 3D television may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the potential of these effects. If your eyes show signs of fatigue or dryness or if you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume using it for at least 30 minutes after the symptoms have subsided.”

Blu-ray Bob is a risk-taking kind of guy, but he doesn’t know what to make of all these warnings. Yes, they surely target only a very small portion of the population and are there so that Samsung is covered legally, but one can’t help but picture that scene in Halloween III: Season of the Witch where all the little kids gather around the TV with their special Silver Shamrock masks only to have their heads explode and bugs come out (above). Just sayin’.

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