3D and Vision Health

3D TV

While 3D technology has been around for over a decade,  it’s only made its way into the home fairly recently. Along with it comes concern over vision health, especially for young viewers. But is that concern justifiable?

Consumer Reports says no evidence currently supports the concern that prolonged or frequent viewing of 3D content could cause eye problems for most users. But, there are cautions involving specific groups of individuals.

Who Should be Cautious When Viewing 3D?

  • Individuals using handheld 3D devices. In a Consumer Reports article, the American Optometric Association says that “due to closer viewing distance, handheld 3D devices actually place higher demands on the eyes than do movies, so more frequent breaks are recommended.”
  • Young children. Nintendo 3D warns against use for children under 6 because of possibly causing vision damage in developing eyes, but experts say children over the age of 3 can view 3D safely.
  • The elderly. Aging eyes naturally become increasingly sensitive to glare and require higher contrast than younger eyes.
  • Children & adults with a family history of epilepsy.  “What are the Dangers of 3D Glassesexplains that these individuals may be at risk of a seizure or stroke due to the bright, flashing light portrayed in a 3D environment.

While no research exists supporting permanent damage specifically from viewing 3D, keep in mind that 3D glasses do manipulate eyes to see images on the screen as 3D, and this can cause eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, disorientation and nausea.

Eye Strain NOT a Problem Unique to 3D Viewing

In fact, HealthGuidance says that “watching any TV can cause some problems with eye strain and the reason for this is that eyes have to constantly adjust to changes in brightness and contrast.”

Prolonged 3D viewing as well as increased strain during the “training period” eyes go through when you first begin watching 3D on a regular basis DO cause eye strain, so be sure to use the following guidelines to ease that strain.

Note that many of these tips also apply to prolonged viewing any other type of screen (computer, regular television, etc.) as well.

  • Consider watching 3D at the theater when possible. Viewing theater 3D is not as bad for your eyes probably because of the fixed position of the audience along with the larger screen size.
  • Know what you’re watching. HealthGuidance says, “Things converted from 2D to 3D are often worse because they were never designed to be viewed in 3D and so have the biggest changes in depth.”
  • Take regular breaks. Allow eyes time to relax, especially when first start watching 3D to allow your eyes to be “trained” to view 3D.
  • Make adjustments. Lower the contrast & brightness on ALL TVs, so the TV won’t affect the brightness of the entire room, which means eyes have less adapting to do.
  • Use good habits for reducing eye strain in general. Understand the importance of Preventing & Reducing Eye Strain as well as Managing Electronic Display Eye Strain.
  • Consider viewing distance. 3D University.net says to, “Remember that viewing distance should be 3x or more the height of the screen.”
  • Sit with eyes level with the screen.
  • Have overall soft lighting in the room when watching 3D TV.
  • Turn off fluorescent lighting.
  • Block sources of direct sunlight before watching in 3D mode.
  • Rest eyes by looking away occasionally during your 3D viewing time.
  • Consider placement of your TV set for optimal lighting conditions.

Also, remember that watery eyes or any visual discomfort on a long-term basis while watching 3D or at any other time should be addressed with your physician since people who have problems with 3D viewing may have underlying issues caused by an undiagnosed eye problem. Again, no evidence suggests 3D viewing causes these long-term problems.

The key for 3D viewing – and really for ANY screen viewing – is moderation. To find out more about 3D viewing and eye health, check out the 3D Vision and Eye Health FAQ provided by the American Optometric Association.

Eye Injury Prevention – A Quick & Easy Approach

Dog with GogglesEye Injury Prevention Month occurring in July – right in the middle of summer – is no coincidence. With an increase in outdoor activities from yard work to sports to fireworks to home maintenance, reasons for remembering eye safety during the summer months seem obvious.

Yet, summer often flies by with many never considering the prevention of eye injury until it’s too late. Don’t become one of these statistics…

  • More than one million people suffer from eye injury yearly.
  • Eye injury occurs at a rate of more than 2,000 per day.
  • About 1,000 eye injuries occur daily in the workplace, which means that 50% of eye injury takes place outside of the workplace.
  • Any exposure to sunlight adds to the cumulative effects of ultraviolet radiation on your eyes.
  • UV exposure has been linked to eye disorders such as macular degeneration, solar retinitis, and corneal dystrophies.

Don’t let the fun and carefree feeling of summer keep you from taking a few basic steps to prevent eye injury & disease. Help keep your summer memories safe with two simple habits.

  1. Wear sunglasses regularly. Get the proper UV protection and eliminate excuses.
  2. Wear safety glasses regularly. Keep summertime fun by avoiding eye injuries.

That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Wearing quality sunglasses and safety glasses is all it takes to eliminate 90% of eye injuries and to prevent disease caused by cumulative damage to the eyes by the sun.

Take the first step today, and purchase the appropriate eyewear to have ready when needed. Then continue enjoying a happy and safe summer.

5 Ways to Celebrate Healthy Vision Month

mechanic with safety glasses

Keep your eyes protected on the job by always wearing your safety glasses.

June is Healthy Vision Month. To celebrate, let’s look at 5 ways to immediately increase your chances of enjoying a lifetime of healthy vision.

1. Get an eye exam. Most adults admit a loss of vision would have an extreme impact on their lives. Yet, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, 25% have not had an eye exam in the last 2 years, and 9% have never had an eye exam.All About Vision says a comprehensive eye exam determines not just your prescription but also whether or not your eyes are working together properly and if you have symptoms of common eye diseases. Eye exams also give an indication of overall health with eye doctors often being the first alerted to the presence of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

2. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Well known for the benefit to heart health, Omega-3 fatty acids might also benefit eye health by lessening the symptoms of eye disease. According to The National Eye Institute, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. While Omega-3’s are not proven to prevent AMD, research shows they may slow its progression.

3. Eat a healthy diet. There’s no shortage of research showing that a healthy diet is essential for overall physical and mental health. That benefit may also include eye health, specifically reduction of cataracts. In fact, research shows that women who ate a “diet closest to the U.S. government’s 1990 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were less likely to develop cataracts than those who did not follow the guidelines as closely.” While eating a healthy diet does not guarantee you won’t develop cataracts, it does lower the risk.

4. Understand the dangers. From the dangers posed by laser pointers to the potential dangers in the workplace, threats to eye health surround us. Adhering to workplace safety procedures as well as implementing your own safety plan at home can help protect your eyes. Begin with education to understand the potential dangers, and then take action by reducing risk with safety practices and by wearing safety glasses or goggles regularly.

5. Wear sunglasses regularly. Many people regularly wear sunscreen to protect their skin but often forget the importance of protecting their eyes against sunburn. They also don’t realize that, over time, sun damage to the eyes increases the risk and progression of diseases such as AMD and cataracts. Wearing sunglasses with maximum UV protection can decrease the risk of cumulative sun damage and thus help keep eyes healthy for a lifetime. Check out the article Sun Safety for more details on how to safely enjoy the sun.

Most people value their eyesight over their other senses, yet many do little to promote healthy eyesight. The above tips can go a long way in ensuring eyes stay healthy for a lifetime, but they only help if put into practice. If you truly value your eyesight, begin protecting it today!