Stereo 3D viewing may lead to Headaches

Several reports indicate that prolonged viewing of mobile devices and other stereo 3D devices leads to visual discomfort, fatigue and even headaches. According to a new Journal of Vision study, the root cause may be the demand on our eyes to focus on the screen and simultaneously adjust to the distance of the content. “When watching stereo 3D displays, the eyes must focus – that is, accommodate – to the distance of the screen because that’s where the light comes from. At the same time, the eyes must converge to the distance of the stereo content, which may be in front of or behind the screen,” explains author Martin S. Banks, professor of optometry and vision science, University of California, Berkeley.

Through a series of experiments on 24 adults, the research team observed the interaction between the viewing distance and the direction of the conflict, examining whether placing the content in front of or behind the screen affects viewer discomfort. The results demonstrated that with devices like mobile phones and desktop displays that are viewed at a short distance, stereo content placed in front of the screen – appearing closer to the viewer and into the space of viewer’s room – was less comfortable than content placed behind the screen. Conversely, when viewing at a longer distance such as a movie theater screen, stereo content placed behind the screen – appearing as though the viewer is looking through a window scene behind the screen – was less comfortable.

“With the advent of 3D televisions currently available in the market, the discomfort associated with viewing these monitors may limit the use of this technology, and will determine if this is widely accepted by the public,” states Dr Farooq Ashraf.

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