If conventional wisdom says that watching TV is bad for your eyes, watching 3D TV may be three times worse, we're beginning to discover.
Doctors and researchers are starting to warn viewers about the potential dangers of spending too much time in front of a 3D boob tube.
Guidelines for Samsung's new line of 3D TVs warn against prolonged exposure to 3D TVs for kids (kids under 6 shouldn't watch at all), teens, pregnant women, the elderly, sleep-deprived people and anyone buzzed on alcohol.
They also point out that watching 3D programming might cause motion sickness, lingering depth perception problems, disorientation and "decreased postural stability."
The guidelines suggest taking frequent 30 minute breaks from TV watching.
"WARNING," says the Samsung site that promotes its new line of 3D sets, "children and teenagers may be more susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D and should be closely supervised when viewing these images.
"Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol should avoid utilizing the unit's 3D functionality," it reads.
While most of the warnings may be the work of overzealous lawyers, there's "a small method to the madness," says Dr. Norman Saffra, director of ophthalmology at Maimonides Medical Center.
This is especially true if you happen to have an ocular condition — such as weak eye muscles, lazy eye or the inability to see 3D. In those cases, "you're stressing the [eye] muscle system so that everything can stay in focus all the time," Saffra says.
"That's why some people, after taking off the 3D glasses, have horrible headaches and can be disorientated, because things are off balance because their eye muscles have been strained watching the movie or TV show."
Unless you've got a pre-existing vision or eye problem though, Saffra says that the symptoms listed in 3D TV guidelines really only affect people who have been drinking.
"People under the influence of alcohol lose some of their control over their eye muscles, so watching a 3D movie or TV show becomes more challenging for them," he says.
This could cause major problems — especially after a long afternoon watching, for instance, the planned ESPN 3D channel.
"At the end of the day, taking off those 3D glasses and walking down the steps while you're inebriated could be a problem," he says.