written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/10/2010
In the past, colour blind people could not see 3D movies. New technology, however, may have changed all of that.
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After 2009's mega-hit 3D movie, Avatar, became the best-selling movie of all time, movie studios quickly took notice. Now, 3D movies are hitting the market in spades, as studios try to take advantage of the trend. Unfortunately, a certain segment of the population with eye problems cannot view 3D movies. This problem effects many people, most of whom can see just fine with corrective lenses. Seeing that other people can't see these new effects, colour blind folks have begun to ask, 'can colour blind people watch 3D films?'. The answer to this is yes - and no. Whether or not a colour blind person can see three dimensional effects in movies depends on the severity of colour blindness as well as the type of 3D movie technology.
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Older colour blind people may remember using the old 3D glasses, which had one red and one blue lens (or red and green). In a nutshell, these glasses worked by resolving polarized light. Because the most common type of colour blindness is red-green colour blindness, meaning people cannot see distinguish between red and green, many colour blind people could not see 3D visual effects in movies requiring red-green glasses. If you are red-green colour blind, the old style red-green or red-blue glasses will probably not work for you. The same is likely true for totally colour blind individuals.
However, there is new technology fueling the 3D boom. Today's 3D glasses are clear, and polarize the light without relying on colour effects as in the olden days. This both improves the quality of 3D effects and allows colour blind people to see the effects. Most colour blind people can watch 3D films, provided they use this new technology. The new 3D technology should work for all colour blind people, including the completely colour blind, red-green blind, and blue-yellow blind. Unfortunately, the new technology does cause headaches and other issues in some people, but these side effects do not target the colour blind over other individuals.
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How to tell if 3D will work for you
If you are colour blind, there is a simple way to determine whether you will be able to see a movie in 3D. If the movie requires coloured glasses of any sort, it will probably not work. If you are red-green colour blind, a movie making use of the red and green coloured glasses almost certainly won't appear in 3D to you. A movie using red-blue glasses, too, probably won't work. The same is true for totally colour blind individuals, and the principle probably applies to blue-yellow blindness. Simply put, if the movie has coloured lenses, colour blind people can't see the 3D.
If, however, the movie uses the new clear lenses - as most today do - then it should work for colour blind people. Some people do have other vision abnormalities that prevent them from seeing the 3D in the new type of crossed-polaroid lenses; that doesn't prevent colour blind people from seeing the 3D, though.