That superhero movie you’ve been dying to see is coming out soon, and everyone you know is going to see it on opening night in 3D. You want to go with them but you hesitate to buy a ticket because you worry that it will trigger a migraine. You may be right to save your popcorn for a 2D screening.
There is a risk of migraines that comes from watching a 3D movie, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. In fact, people who suffer from migraines have more than three times the risk of developing a 3D-induced headache compared to most other moviegoers. (Young women were also found to be at higher risk.) While more research needs to be done to determine the specific reasons behind this finding, it has been suggested that possible causes could be light sensitivity, eye strain, the movie’s frame speed, intensity of the film’s visual effects and the way images are projected through the 3D glasses required to view these films.
This kind of 3D technology is still making advances in TV, video games and other forms of media, and there aren’t studies yet to show their effects in the short or long term. However, as with 3D movies, it may be best to be careful about being exposed to these types of 3D video uses whenever possible if you are susceptible to migraines, especially if you already have migraines after watching a 3D movie.
For some people, even regular 2D movies can cause a migraine—usually if the film is filled with bright lighting, frenetic editing and rapidly-paced action sequences. Even the theater itself can cause problems if the sound is too loud or the light from the screen is too bright. So how can you avoid migraines while still enjoying a movie? Here are some suggestions to try out:
- Avoid 3D movies in favor of 2D films whenever possible, especially if the movies are heavy on visual effects that could cause headache or eye fatigue that could lead to a migraine.
- Sit as far back from the screen as possible. The distance can help ease the strain that can happen when you sit too close to the screen. You may want to go to a theater where you can reserve specific seats in advance to ensure you get the best vantage point.
- Rest before and after the film and avoid any migraine triggers during those times, such as watching TV or being in a room with bright lights.
- If loud noise is a trigger, you may want to invest in some sound-muffling ear plugs you can wear during the movie.
- If you’re watching a movie at home, don’t sit too close to the TV, adjust the screen settings on the monitor to lower brightness and don’t watch the show in a dark room. You may also want to pause the movie about every 20 to 30 minutes so you can give your eyes a rest.