3D TV Not Harmful, But Children Should Not Overindulge

Ever since 3D TV has made a comeback this year as a result of concerted marketing efforts from most HDTV makers, there have been some worries over the health risks posed by this extra-dimensional format. Some say that watching 3D content on a 3D TV for too long may lead to persisting changes in depth perception hours after the 3D glasses are taken off, which may contribute to accidents happening. Others point to Samsung’s own 3DTV user manual which warns pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those who have been sleep-deprived or drinking against viewing 3D content for fear of inducing seizures, dizziness, disorientation or motion sickness.

But today an expert on vision has issued a statement to allay these health fears. Professor Colin Clifford, who obtained his postgraduate and doctoral degrees in the United Kingdom and now works at the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, is a globally respected authority on visual perception and how the neural processing in our brains affects our visual awareness. He asserts that watching 3D TV is no more harmful than watching traditional flat-panel 2D TV, as long as viewers do not sit too close to the screen nor watch for too long.

Professor Clifford highlighted the importance of 3D TV viewing distance by explaining how our eyes would align in an almost parallel fashion when focusing on an object beyond reading distance, which means that very little adjustment is needed to perceive depth of field. Provided one sits at least 2 to 3 metres away from the screen, 3D effects can still be appreciated without placing excessive strain on the eyes.

He went on to elaborate that watching 3D content on 3D TVs nowadays is very different from doing the same on virtual reality (VR) goggles. Because the VR goggles demand the eyes to be fixated on a very near focal point while the brain is meant to construct images that appear distant, not only can eye injuries occur, the brain’s visual processing system can get confused as well.

Professor Clifford did warn children against watching too much 3D TV, saying that excessive exposure of children’s developing visual system (eyes and brain) to artificial 3D content may impair their sense of depth in the real-world environment.