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How to Tell if You Can See in 3D Before Buying a 3D TV

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/13/2010

Before you go out and buy an expensive 3D television set, make sure you can see in 3D. This article explains how to tell if 3D effects work for you.

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    Engineers have recently developed technology to bring the 3D experience out of the theater and into the home. With more movies being filmed in 3D than ever before, and some television events now being filmed in 3D, 3D-capable television sets clearly don't suffer from any lack of content. However, before buying an expensive 3D TV set, you should find out how to tell if you can see in 3D. A number of vision problems that don't cause issues in everyday life do prevent one from viewing 3D effects, so it is best to determine whether the technology works for you before buying a 3D TV.

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    How to Tell if You Can See in 3D

    Though there are some conditions that will prevent you from seeing 3D effects, the best way to tell if you can see in 3D is to go to a 3D movie. Home 3D television sets work using the same technology as movie theaters use, so problems seeing 3D in the theater will carry over to the home. This does require the purchase of a movie ticket, but some movie theaters may refund your ticket if you can't see the effects. A sizable minority of viewers also experience severe headaches or nausea from 3D movies, and the only way to see if this will happen to you is to try it out. It is highly recommended that you view a 3D movie before investing in a home set. If you don't want to purchase a movie ticket, you could also go to a large store with display units and ask to try out the 3D televisions there.

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    Why People Can't See in 3D

    According to one study, about 10 percent of people can't see 3D effects. This can be caused by any number of issues, from color blindness to minor eye deformities. The color blind cannot see 3D effects in movies requiring the old colored lenses, as explained in Can Colour Blind People Watch 3D Films? However, color blind people can see 3D effects just fine with the new clear lens glasses. Most new movies and home 3D TVs use the new technology, so the color blind shouldn't have any problems.

    To see in 3D, one must have two properly working eyes. Anyone with full or partial blindness in one eye will not be able to see 3D effects. Other less-obvious problems can prevent viewers from seeing in 3D correctly. Often these problems are so minor that the afflicted have never gotten any diagnosis. Slight differences between how your eyes work may prevent you from seeing 3D altogether, or just cause headaches and nausea. For instance, people with one eye more farsighted or nearsighted than another have reported having problems seeing 3D. Astigmatism, blurry vision, and even lazy eyes can cause 3D viewing problems. If you can't see in 3D, or experience headaches and/or nausea, you likely have an undiagnosed eye problem and should consult with an optometrist. In some cases treatment can resolve issues and allow people to see in 3D as it was intended.

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    There are several ways to tell if you can see in 3D. Vision problems in one eye, differences between eyes, and other issues can all ruin 3D movies. The best way to tell if 3D will work is to try it out for yourself, either at a 3D movie or on a trial set. Don't go buying an expensive 3D TV set without first making sure the effect will work for you.