3D Vision: How Does It Work?

Often called “3D Vision,” depth perception is dependent on the ability to use both eyes together at the highest level.  3D vision relies on both eyes working together to accurately focus on the same point in space.  The brain is then able to interpret the image the each eye sees to create your perception of depth.

Deficiencies in depth perception can result in a lack of 3D vision or headaches and eyestrain during 3D movies. 


3D Vision Syndrome describes a condition that many individuals experience when watching 3D movies or watching a 3D TV and may be the result of underlying binocular vision dysfunction (eye teaming difficulties). 

3D Vision Syndrome can be remembered by the 3 D’s:

  • Discomfort: 3D technology requires the viewer to focus their eyes either in front of the screen (by converging) or behind the screen (by diverging). If you have difficulties with convergence, such as convergence insufficiency, it can result in headaches, eyestrain, or fatigue.
  • Dizziness: Often times people will complain of dizziness or nausea after viewing 3D material. One reason for these complaints is that some of the technology used to create 3D can worsen Visual Motion Hypersensitivity (VMH).
  • Depth: Some individuals describe 3D as “popping off the screen” or “coming right at them”, while others only see a faintly raised image or a flat image that resembles a traditional screen. This lack or absence of depth is one of the signs that the binocular vision system is not functioning properly. People who are unable to use both eyes together to achieve binocularity will not see the depth of 3D content.


You do not experience the vivid, “popping out of the screen” experience that others describe at 3D movies or while watching a 3D television

You are more comfortable watching a tradition two dimensional (flat) movie or television instead of 3D

It is difficult for you and your eyes to adjust “back to normal” after watching 3D

Watching 3D content results in eyestrain, headaches, excessive blinking, neusea, or dizziness

You frequently close or cover one eye while viewing 3D movies or television and find yourself wanting to remove the 3D glasses before the end of the movie/show


If you experience any of the symptoms of 3D Vision Syndrome or have other difficulties with depth perception or 3D, your next eye examination should be with a doctor who understands binocular vision and eye teaming.

Not all eye doctors assess eye teaming during their examination and even fewer have specialized training, such as a residency, in the areas of binocular vision or pediatrics.

  • For young children, we recommend an examination with a residency-trained pediatric optometrist.  Residency-trained pediatric optometrists have both the knowledge and experience to diagnose binocular vision problems in children of all ages.  Additionally, they will be able to determine if an eye condition, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (eye turn), or uncorrected refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astimatism), are the cause for the 3D Vision Syndrome.
  • For children of all ages and adults, we recommend an examination with an optometrist with residency training in binocular vision.  Optometrists with residency training in binocular vision are sometimes referred to as "developmental optometrists" becuase they not only evaluate the need for glasses and eye health, but also eye teaming, eye focusing, 3D vision, and the functional ability to use your eyes.

When choosing your eye doctor for your next exam, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Where did the doctor complete his or her residency?
  • Is the residency in the area of pediatrics, binocular vision, or neuro-optometry?
  • Does the exam include a thorough assessment of binocular vision, 3D vision, eye teaming, and eye focusing?

Call 208.377.8899 to schedule an assessment to determine if your 3D Vision Syndrome is due to a binocular vision problem

Call 208.377.1310 to Schedule Your Assessment

Advanced Vision Therapy Center is Idaho’s premier clinic for Vision Therapy, Neuro-Optometric Vision Rehabilitation and Sports Vision Training. We offer vision assessments and customized treatment for both children and adults that are tailored to the specific vision condition of each individual.

Not sure which type of vision assessment is right for you? Call us today and we'll help you determine the best assessment to achieve your visual goals.

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