I can’t read for any length of time in a moving vehicle — it makes me nauseous. This is because in order for the body to determine where it is at all times, the brain combines visual information, touch information, inner ear information, and internal expectations to judge its position in space.
Under most circumstances, the senses and expectations agree. When they disagree, there is conflict, and motion sickness can occur. In my case with reading in a car, my eyes that are fixed on the written page tell my brain that I am still. However, as the car goes over bumps and accelerates or decelerates, my inner ear disagrees resulting in my brain activating the nausea center and causing motion sickness.
Well, the same thing might happen with 3D TV.
Samsung Australia offers these warnings about the potential health effects of 3D TV:
— 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 or any of your family has a history of epilepsy or stroke, please consult with a medical specialist before using the 3D function.
— If you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately stop watching 3D pictures and consult a medical specialist: (1) altered vision; (2) lightheadedness; (3) dizziness; (4) involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; (5) confusion; (6) nausea; (7) loss of awareness; (8) convulsions; (9) cramps; and/or (10) disorientation. Parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults.
— Viewing in 3D mode 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 likelihood of these effects. If you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume until the symptoms have subsided.
— We do not recommend watching 3D if you are in bad physical condition, need sleep or have been drinking alcohol.
— Watching TV while sitting too close to the screen for an extended period of time may damage your eyesight. The ideal viewing distance should be at least three times the height of the TV screen. It is recommended that the viewer’s eyes are level with the screen.
— Watching TV while wearing 3D Active Glasses for an extended period of time may cause headaches or fatigue. If you experience a headache, fatigue or dizziness, stop watching TV and rest.
— Do not use the 3D Active Glasses for any purpose other than viewing 3D television. Wearing the 3D Active Glasses for any other purpose (as general spectacles, sunglasses, protective goggles, etc.) may physically harm you or weaken your eyesight.
— Viewing in 3D mode may cause disorientation for some viewers. DO NOT place your television near open stairwells, cables, balconies or other objects that may cause you to injure yourself.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since these issues with 3D TV are very reminiscent of problems experienced with virtual reality display units in the 1980’s. But as a recent Samsung TV customer and guy with my particular vestibular predilection, I was surprised to find that these health concerns are not published on Samsung’s US website.
This is not to say there aren’t websites out there with plenty of folks who have experienced motion sickness from 3D technology — there are. But we should not forget that there are many, many families outside of Australia who have children with epilepsy or a history of epilepsy and this technology is being actively marketed to children.
Granted, photosensitive epilepsy is relatively rare, affecting less than 5% of all people with epilepsy, but as the market reach of this technology expands, manufacturers should make these health issues of their technology known to the public, irrespective of the country in which they reside.
-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*