Trouble in Europe: Italy Says 3D Glasses Pose a 'Health Risk'

February 23, 2010
Source: Reuters

3D Glasses

There's been lots of interesting things going on in the European movie exhibition industry recently, most of which flies by us because it's a whole different industry. First up, Odeon Cinemas has boycotted Alice in Wonderland from their movie theaters in the UK, Ireland, Italy, and also the Netherlands because Disney changed the "release window" from four months after opening to 90 days (we wrote about that here). Other theaters are considering following in suit. Another interesting article popped up in Reuters (via SlashFilm) stating that the Italian government thinks that 3D glasses pose a "health risk" for moviegoers. They do?

Reuters says that the Italian health ministry "confiscated" about 7000 pairs of 3D glasses and could even collect more. "Officials said the glasses pose hygiene problems if they are not properly cleaned between screenings, and that the confiscated glasses did not display tags proving they would not cause short-term vision problems to users." I would've thought this "health risk" was more about the headaches and dizziness that some people seem to experience while watching 3D, not something as simple as hygiene! "The missing glasses have had little effect on the success of Avatar in Italy, where it remains the top-grossing film in the country." Well that's good to hear, but this news is kind of amusing because it's such an outrageous claim.

At most IMAX theaters, you have to return your 3D glasses when you leave because they're quite expensive. You may have never noticed, but each theater then cleans them, usually with an industrial washer or another semi-high tech cleaning machine. But I've never picked up a pair that I've thought were dirty. Have you? I know I've had to clean the lens portion of the glasses before because it had smudges on it, but that's about it. It sounds like some health official discovered that lazy theater employees aren't properly cleaning glasses. If that's the case, yell at the theater, but there's no reason to claim that 3D glasses on the whole are unhealthy!

And as a final note, the 3D glasses specifically made by RealD are cheap, plastic, and disposable. If you see a movie that's using RealD technology, they give out those glasses like candy. The pair you'll get have never been touched by anyone before. I guess they don't use RealD in Europe? What do you make of all this?

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"most of which flies by us because it's a whole different industry" FYI the internet is GLOBAL.

poo on Feb 23, 2010


The Cineworld chain in the UK uses the RealD style glasses, they come sealed everytime you buy your ticket to a 3D screening.

MJFrog on Feb 23, 2010


If they're THAT worried about hygiene problems, why are they focusing on 3D glasses as the problem and not the actual people wearing them?? Instead of, "Lets all go to the lobby.." they'll need "Let's all go to the Shower.."

Nick Sears on Feb 23, 2010


I work at Amc theaters in ARIZONA, and i tell you tha we clean ours though the washr 3 times lol

K-yle on Feb 23, 2010


Iam living in Germany and I watched Avatar (3D) in a UCI theatre. They're also using RealD glasses. Its like MJFrog said. Here in Germany you have to pay 2 or 3 euros more for a ticket when you want to watch a 3D screening. But after the show you can keep them. Thats the first time I hear about health problems with 3D glasses. Crazy...

Centrixs on Feb 23, 2010


i knew rubbing my butt hole all over my I-max glasses would pan out hilariously. viewers beware! PINK EYE... in 3D!

DoomCanoe on Feb 23, 2010


Have you been to Italy? Cleanliness is not on the top of their priorities list..

Rick on Feb 23, 2010


They don't clean 'em here in NYC. It's disgusting.

JJ Abrams on Feb 23, 2010


I´ve seen Avatar in France and in Spain with RealD glasses.

MrG on Feb 23, 2010


Thanks Rick for your brave and ignorant comment. Just walk for a few blocks here in NY and then just tell me whose got more cleanliness priorities.

Jones on Feb 23, 2010


In Portugal the 2€ you pay for 3D you get sealed glasses which i assume are rather new, they have a bin at the end for you to leave your glasses if you wish, i suppose those are the ones that are cleaned out, but if you think about it, you just need filthy glasses and bad luck to get a serious eye infection. If They think there might any chance things arent done right, id like to know, and have it corrected!

Ricardo on Feb 23, 2010


I live in the Netherlands and the first time I watched Avatar we got RealD glasses. Awesome glasses, we were even allowed to take 'em home!

Robbie on Feb 23, 2010


I'm in the Netherlands too, but I got the kind you had to return, and the lenses were very smudged and there were even scratches which was somewhat annoying. It just takes away from the experience. It's not just the hygiene I think, I didn't know the glasses could cause short-sightedness, I'd like my eyes to stop degrading. Then again staring at computer screens is probably just as harmful.

John I.G> on Feb 23, 2010


They use RealD in most european countries. Avatar was in RealD and the glasses were sealed and you could take them with you. Maybe in Italy they use the same glasses for maximizing their profit! They charge you for them but don't let you have them so they can sell them again!

var2apo on Feb 23, 2010


Ive got an idea....STOP DOING 3D ALTOGETHER. Biggest most detracting gimmick in the history of entertainment.

Cody on Feb 23, 2010


#15 i totally agree.

var2apo on Feb 23, 2010


#10- I've never been to NYC. So I can't speak for that. I think some sort of one time use/ recyclable 3D glasses would solve the problem of depending on staff to properly wash them after each use

Rick on Feb 23, 2010


Why doesn't that woman have glasses on? What's so important that she won't watch the movie?

Domingo on Feb 23, 2010


I work at an IMAX in Texas and I run the box office and clean the glasses after every showing and the only problem that we run into is the amount of broken glasses. I'd say with the frequency that we're having to replace glasses that it would be almost impossible to run into health problems.

Parker on Feb 23, 2010


Say what you will about the hygienic factor of the glasses, 3D itself is a virus that plagues hollywood. The sooner its expunged as a pointless fad, the better.

YK on Feb 23, 2010


3D glasses hurt the hell out of my eyes. I feel like I am constantly straining. Also, the movies are always tinted and that is lame, becasue I love seeing vibrant color in movies. Also, 3D is just a gimmick. It should go away somewhere and die alone. BLEH.

Angry Chief on Feb 23, 2010


ha! 3-D indeed is the death of cinema.

Xerxex on Feb 23, 2010


in the pic featured one woman has said "fuck this!" and removed her glasses! WE should all follow her example.

Xerxex on Feb 23, 2010


ok that picture looks messed look at all the people in the background looks like a buncha aliens invade earth no joke

Spider94 on Feb 23, 2010


@ 23 xerxex thats what i think boycott 3-d films, its not really going to spoil your veiwing pleasure if you are just seeing the film in normal 2-d is it. who knows she may have 3-d contact lenses in.



In Sweden the issue of the 3D glasses are about the fact that they are not very enviromental friendly. Since they *give* them to every customer at every viewing (unlike UK where they only lend them)....

N on Feb 23, 2010


Mmh.. In my town there is a teather with Real D and another with X-pand, I've seen Avatar with X-Pand technology, I think that when you sit in a theater You should be more concerned about head lices on your seat... lol

FlaWiio on Feb 23, 2010


Well, I'm italian, and I saw Avatar in RealD, with disposable glasses, so perfectly clean. Real thing is: first, italians are lazy, so I'm sure that there are chances that the glasses were not clean; second, the italian government is not known 4 his brilliant ideas, and they could be capable of forbid 3d, they have done worse in the years...

Maxette on Feb 23, 2010


I saw Avatar in Sweden in reald and got my glasses in sealed plastic bag there was a place to recycle them when you left but you could keep em if you wanted. My impression was that i got new ones but maybe they send em away to get cleaned and rebaged? (spelling?) I will ask next time I go to the movies

Loser on Feb 23, 2010


Agreed....Boycott the films that are converted to 3-d mid production or at least just see them in 2-d. If a film is made specifically for 3-d i.e Avatar thats fine. But this is getting rediculous...maybe we can make a point to hollywood as moviegoers that its a fad that needs to die...soon. Though it probably wont make a difference cause a majority of moviegoers dont really give a shit.

Cody on Feb 23, 2010


The theater I go to you can either keep the glasses or recycle them, they are never re-used...

yo on Feb 23, 2010


i fuckin' knew it!!!!!

wm on Feb 23, 2010


Im all for just not having 3D. THAT. WOULD. BE. AWESOME.

Al on Feb 23, 2010


#1 - To respond, yes I get that, but I don't know enough about how it works over there -- I haven't ever seen a single movie in a European movie theater (excluding Cannes) -- to feel like I know enough to cover industry news from Europe. Just my feelings. #30 - That's not why Alice in Wonderland is being boycotted, but I almost want to support that anyway, just because you're right, converting to 3D in post is just a bad idea!

Alex Billington on Feb 23, 2010


why is the one lady in the photo not wearing any, yet looking around like she's up to no good? let's talk about that.

wm on Feb 23, 2010


@ wm I've already brought that up: "in the pic featured one woman has said "fuck this!" and removed her glasses! WE should all follow her example."

Xerxex on Feb 23, 2010


@36. right on.

wm on Feb 24, 2010


Really we are not doing a good impression in the world with this story. But the real reason to retire glasses is not hygene problems but legal-commercial problems (CE brand) http://www.soloparolesparse.com/2010/02/gli-occhialini-3d-sono-pericolosi-il-mondo-ride-di-noi/

soloparolesparse on Feb 25, 2010


those italians hate james cameron!! all joking aside, Ive gotten a couple of dirty glasses here in the states! and I do think they should atleast warn people here that there is that high risk of temporary sight problems and headaches and dizzyness

lando on Feb 26, 2010


3D is there purely to make audiences go and buy a ticket as opposed to downloading films for free all the time off the web. "Must be witnessed in 3D for the full effect!" etc etc. Doesn't make a shit film any better because there's a bit of depth to it. Having said that, UP was superb and rather subtle in its dimension raping...

Mark on Mar 1, 2010

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