Although watching 3D movies provides greater immersion, it can also lead to heightened visual and motion sickness symptoms, according to a study – Stereoscopic Viewing and Reported Perceived Immersion and Symptoms – in the July issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry.
The study found that symptoms related to 3D viewing are affected by where you sit while watching, and even how old you are. “Younger viewers incurred higher immersion but also greater visual and motion sickness symptoms in 3D viewing,” suggested the study’s authors, led by Shun-nan Yang, PhD, of Pacific University College of Optometry, who advised that such problems would be reduced if a farther distance and a wider viewing angle were adopted.
Study participants viewed a movie – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – in 2D or 3D while sitting at different angles and distances. Their prior viewing symptoms, as well as visual and physical discomfort immediately before and after viewing, were measured with questionnaires. They were also asked to report their perceived immersion after the viewing.
Twenty-one per cent of participants reported symptoms while watching the movie in 3D, compared to twelve per cent with 2D viewing. For younger study participants, blurred vision, double vision, dizziness, disorientation, and nausea were all more frequent and severe when watching the movie in 3D.
Older viewers (age 46 years or older) reported greater ocular, visual, and motion sickness symptoms in 2D viewing, and younger viewers (age 24–34 years) reported greater visual and motion sickness symptoms in 3D viewing. Sitting in an oblique position attenuated perceived immersion but also reduced motion symptoms in 3D viewing. Prior viewing symptoms in 2D tasks also predicted ocular and physical symptoms in 2D but less so in 3D viewing.
The study identified several factors associated with symptoms during 3D viewing. “3D viewing is quite specific in causing blurred vision and double vision, and the resultant symptoms are greater for younger adults,” observed Dr Yang and colleagues.
In conclusion, the study found that: “Stereoscopic 3D viewing provides greater immersion, but it can also lead to heightened visual and motion sickness symptoms. Viewers with prior symptoms in viewing TV and computer screen are not more likely to have increased ocular and physical symptoms in 3D viewing. Young viewers incurred higher immersion but also greater visual and motion sickness symptoms in 3D viewing; both will be reduced if a farther distance and a wider viewing angle are adopted.”