Epilepsy Talk

Why 3D TVs Are NOT For Me… | April 14, 2011

Here’s the good news and the bad news…

The GOOD: You can buy a 3D TV without using the 3D function.

The BAD: I threw up watching Avatar and I’m not even photosensitive!

I guess you get the message.

Watching 3D can cause other problems in addition to causing seizures. They include: altered vision, light-headedness, dizziness, eye or muscle twitching, confusion, nausea, loss of awareness, convulsions, cramps and disorientation.  (So I’m not such a wuss.)

And here’s some more “good” news from the Epilepsy Foundation: Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol should avoid 3D.

Plus, viewing 3D television may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain and decreased postural stability.

Did anyone mention that it might be dangerous to breathe while you’re watching?

It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the potential of these effects. If your eyes show signs of fatigue or dryness or if you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume using it for at least thirty minutes after the symptoms have subsided.

But there’s more here than meets the eye…

Behind many of the warnings are the legalities. No one wants to be sued. So 3D TV manufacturers put scads of warnings out to cover all eventualities. (Unlike movie theaters that just shrug and say “see it at your own risk.” They’re not going to be living in your house with you!)

One 3D TV manufacturer said the warnings had been issued because “watching 3D TV is an entirely new experience for people and there are concerns that it is so exciting and involving.”

In other words, they’re worried you’ll have too much fun!!!

So, is 3D TV a real danger, or just like our mothers telling us that watching too much old style TV would make us blind?

With all the warnings, joy and hysteria, one thing they forgot to explain is that there’s more than just one type of 3D technology in use.  And the whole technology is evolving.  So, yes, you might have a reaction. Or maybe not.

A fair compromise would be to skip this round and see how the next generation shakes out. (Sort of like the Betamax vs. VHS format wars in the old VCR days.)

Even my over jealous, geek-loving husband decided to wait it out…while he dreams of baseball games to come.







  1. I only remember that you had to wear these wierd gasses in order to watch a movie in 3-D.
    I didn’t know there was 3-D TV’s…but, you learn something new everyday.


    Comment by Mike — April 14, 2011 @ 6:35 PM

  2. Hi Phylis
    I haven’t had the fortune (or bad luck) of using a 3D tv yet… We have only just got a HD tv and all my favourite actors have gained 10 years
    ‘Swings and round abouts’ hey, on all ‘mod cons’! And in a serious note… I am very upset if triggered off your side effects.. Get a refund!


    Comment by Stephen — April 14, 2011 @ 6:36 PM

    • Well Stephen, no refund for me. I sort of HAD to sit through all of Avatar because my husband’s best friend was the colonel.

      So “I took one for the home team!”

      (Besides, I knew there would be a quiz later!!! 😉


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 14, 2011 @ 10:08 PM

  3. Phylis, I am sorry that you had a strong reaction. I do not watch Avatar, personal decision, no criticm.

    I do not watch 3-D movies or TV’s because:

    1. you have to buy expensive glasses for the side effects of your eyes.

    2. I watched 2 3-D movies when I was a teenager. It was too scary having the characters jump out at you. I felt like I was being attacked.


    Comment by ruth brown — April 15, 2011 @ 3:33 AM

  4. You win on the reaction! I was at Disneyland wearing glasses going wow! The next thing I knew I was being carted out! I liked the beginining of the show but my body said it wasn’t for me! 20/20 had something on roller coaster rides, I now take them seriously. If your body doesn’t like heavy jerks, it can cause problems. With us w/ osteoporosis I learned my lesson. Dizziness I thought rollercoasters were great. I kept falling. The rides have warnings, we should apply them to ourselve. I have the bruises and the medical bills to show it. I thought I was super person …..Not! You have to apply common sense! I am counting my bruises! I am now using a cane to keep balance for it now. The industry is selling!!!

    We should do something to stop the 3-D. I am not totally familar w/ the TV sets. It sounds awful what happened to you.


    Comment by Toni Robison — April 15, 2011 @ 3:42 PM

    • I went on one of those centifical force rides and when it was over, they had to pick me up off the floor!!!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 15, 2011 @ 5:48 PM

      • My 2 cents. 🙂 I avoid anything that goes up/down, all around, tooo fast. It’s known that Sudden Barometric changes can trigger seizures, also.


        Comment by candi — April 17, 2011 @ 2:29 PM

  5. Man! I’ve never considered all of this. But I do remember. years ago, reading disclaimers with lists of things epileptics should avoid.

    I’ve mentioned before that I only have seizures when I’m asleep.
    So I’ll have to avoid falling asleep while Bungie jumping or Sky Diving…LOL!


    Comment by Mike — April 15, 2011 @ 4:06 PM

  6. I always thought it was for those w/ serious sz disorders. I have had sz for 30 years and taken medication for 20 years. The combination of the disorder and medication in my opinion only is causing the problem. Hopefully in the future it will not be so bad for the youth and people just diagnosed w/ sz disorders.


    Comment by Toni Robison — April 15, 2011 @ 6:29 PM

  7. I was at a play last night, and the announcer said there was stuff that might scare kids, etc, but he also mentioned that they will be using ‘strobe lights’extensively. He reccomended that people who are sentive to this should just shut their eye’s if it bothered them.
    When I’ve closed my eye’s during past encounters at different places, I’ve always had to cover them with my hand, not just shut them. That used to be one of my triggers. Something tells me I’ll be visiting him again, and enlighten him on it’s seriousness


    Comment by Charlie — April 17, 2011 @ 1:12 PM

    • I was on a date during the disco era (yeah, I’m THAT old) and we were all dancing and jiving. I guess all the action or the closeness of the bodies was keeping me upright.

      When the music stopped and everyone started to drift back to their tables, I sank to the floor like a stone. 😦


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 17, 2011 @ 1:54 PM

      • My daughter had to have a serious talk w/ her employer about the use of strobe lights. He learned to warn her or just not use them while she was at work. She is a ‘Groupie’ for numerous bands. She has talked w/ them about the use of strobes, also. They listened! 🙂 She wasn’t concerned about just herself, but, others in the audience, too.


        Comment by candi — April 17, 2011 @ 2:34 PM

  8. That a good suggestion Charlie.

    Phylis, We’re all in denial of something…LOL!
    The Disco era was back in the 70’s and early 80’s, when Elvis was in the spotlite. LOL!

    On a seriouse note:
    I remember hearing how high beam headlights could
    trigger siezures. Now they’re using Holagen light(blue) as a softer headlight. But if you ask me, low beam holagen is just as bad.


    Comment by Mike Farnam — April 17, 2011 @ 2:30 PM

    • I agree that the new headlights are just as bad. I believe the seizure that ended my driving and almost my life in 2001 was triggered by those type of headlights. The only things I remembered was coming round a bend, being blasted by super bright halogen lights and waking up with my engine next to me, a tree where the engine should have been and saying “Thank You Jesus”!
      No one could convince me otherwise, that those lights are dangerous.
      What do you have on the dangers of these lights, Phylis. You are just such a wealth of info. Thank you.


      Comment by Charlie — April 18, 2011 @ 9:11 PM

  9. Good for her. Awareness is a wonderful thing. Especially having the courage to speak out!

    You should be proud of her Candi!!! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 17, 2011 @ 5:25 PM

  10. Mike, I also think that’s why they changed the color of whirling emergency vehicles from red to blue!!!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 17, 2011 @ 5:43 PM

    • I agree! I told my Neurologist about the strobe lights!

      The police cars with the flashing lights and sirens.

      They reduced the siren noise in the 70’s.
      Where only one car or truck was allowed to put its siren on for Noise values.

      We have a lot of dirty air, and a lot of noise too, along w/ light etc. Distraction causes accidents! Now I will start talking environmentalist on you. We need our balance!!!! A Pun In the Seizure World. I will start giving theoretical concepts! OOPS another time!


      Comment by Toni Robison — April 17, 2011 @ 6:44 PM

  11. Charlie: I did an hour of research on halogen lights and so far, this is all I found:

    Fluorescent, or compact fluorescent, lighting is the clear choice when it comes to energy consumption, cost and fire danger, but halogen lights can be ideal for some outdoor or automotive applications.

    Halogen bulbs are best used for car headlights, high-intensity reading lamps, spotlights and photography.

    Basically they are BEING recommended as a replacement for incandescent lights of all kinds.

    My guess is that the intensity of the headlights and the sudden unexpected glare is what did it to you. 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 19, 2011 @ 12:25 AM

    • Thank you Phylis


      Comment by Toni Robison — April 19, 2011 @ 12:38 AM

  12. Well, I didn’t want anyone to get as sick as I was!!!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 19, 2011 @ 12:25 PM

  13. Thank you Phylis. This is really an eye opener!!


    Comment by ruth brown — April 19, 2011 @ 6:25 PM

  14. i can’t watch anything in 3-D because it gives me terrible headaches, event it hurts my dad’s eyes.


    Comment by Crystal Cahill — February 1, 2014 @ 6:55 PM

  15. I went to Avatar because Arthur’s best friend was the general. So it was like taking one for the “gipper”.

    I threw up and had to go. Steve Lang or not. I was sure he’d understand.

    He did.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 1, 2014 @ 11:13 PM

  16. I don’t bother going to 3-D movies because I can’t “see” them. Other flashing lights have been causing me more and more trouble over the years. Just 3 days ago, the flashing lights and children’s sneakers made me feel woozy, but I think it was because I was already coming down with a virus.


    Comment by M Higgins — February 2, 2014 @ 5:15 PM

  17. Well, I guess we all have some form of photosensitive epilepsy which is literally a reflex action to certain types of flickering or flashing lights.

    The trigger could be exposure to television screens due to the flicker or rolling images, computer monitors, certain video games or TV broadcasts containing rapid flashes, even alternating patterns of different colors, in addition to intense strobe lights.

    Fortunately for me, it’s only 3-D movies.

    Which is a good thing. Because if I had a reaction to computer monitors, it would surely slow me down as a writer! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 2, 2014 @ 5:56 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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