Shocker: Movie theater 3D glasses carry bacteria

With more 3D movies coming to theaters, some might be wondering if the 3D glasses they're putting on are really clean. Well, Good Housekeeping has the answer, and it won't make "Avatar" filmgoers too happy.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

With an increasing number of 3D movies hitting theaters, we'll be wearing theater-provided 3D glasses more often. The only problem is, those glasses could harbor all kinds of bacteria that might make some of us think twice about seeing "Avatar" for the fourth time.

3D Glasses
Would you like some conjunctivitis with that 3D movie? Gunnar

According to Good Housekeeping, which tested movie theater 3D glasses that were both unwrapped and wrapped in plastic, several of the frames carried "bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis, skin infections, food poisoning, or even sepsis or pneumonia."

The publication's research lab found that "none of the glasses" it tested were sterilized. One of the pairs it evaluated "was contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, the most common cause of staph infections."

Luckily, Good Housekeeping found that there are options for those concerned with the cleanliness of 3D glasses. It said that using an alcohol wipe can reduce bacteria on the glasses by "more than 95 percent" based on its tests. A dry tissue only removed "66 percent of germs."

It's worth noting that Good Housekeeping's study included seven pairs of 3D glasses that it was able to take back to the lab. For glasses that it was forced to leave in theaters, it took a swab and sent it to a third-party lab to test for germs. The publication did not say how many pairs of 3D glasses were included in the study.

Regardless, the findings are disconcerting. As someone who has attended several 3D films in the past, I'm not quite sure I'll be so excited to go next time.