3-D Movies: Are They Bad for Kids' Eyes?

It's official: Toy Story 3 is a hit at the box office! But with plenty of pop-from-the-screen three-dimensional thrills, lots of moms are wondering, "Are 3D movies safe for my kid's eyes?"

Marty Banks, Ph.D., Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at University of California, Berkeley, says that they probably are. Banks has studied the effect of 3D-watching on young adults and found that seeing a movie on a big screen is relatively safe due to the distance between viewers and the screen. Plus, says Banks, the newer, more sophisticated 3D movies aren't as harmful as the effects of the past, where images, like swords, seemed to come toward the audience. "We're more concerned with closer 3D screens, like TVs, desktop computer displays and cell phones," says Banks. "In our study, we found that watching 3D effects up close might cause eye strain or make your vision blurry. Some people said their eyes were tired or complained of headaches."

But Banks didn't study children, and he doesn't know of anyone else who has. So he suggests proceeding with caution if you decide to tote your little one to the theater. "I would ask my kids how they were feeling during the movie," he says. "If they said they were tired or had a headache, I'd tell them to take off the 3D glasses or take them into the lobby and do something else." But what about those kids who'll inevitably rip off the glasses -- could watching the movie without 3D specs cause problems? "I doubt that," says Banks. "The images will just look blurry or fuzzy." He adds: "I think it's appropriate to be cautious, but not fearful. People get really worried when things are new."

If you want to be extra cautious, remember the movie's available in plain ol' 2D too. Fandango lists movie times for Toy Story 3 in regular, 3D and IMAX 3D. Be sure to pick the version you're most comfortable with.

Will you take you kids to see Toy Story 3 in 3D? Chime in below!

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