The American Optometric Association and the 3-D@Home Consortium have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve the understanding of stereoscopic/3-D viewing as a safe and appropriate technology for children and adults of all ages. The two organizations hope to collaborate on clinical research and develop strategies for promoting an enhanced 3-D experience through thoughtful consideration of human vision development and perceptual processes.
The 3-D@Home Consortium is working to accelerate the adoption of 3-D technology in the home. Through conversations with the AOA, the Consortium has come to understand that vision and eye health are a large component of the consumers’ ability to view 3-D images and to ultimately increase their use of 3-D technology. And through conversations with the Consortium, the AOA has come to understand that the adoption of 3-D technology is a new opportunity to screen children for undetected vision problems such as strabismus and amblyopia. These vision disorders, if left undiagnosed, not only interfere with the 3-D viewing experience, but also have the potential to cause the “3-Ds of 3-D viewing”: discomfort, dizziness and lack of depth.
At a symposium on 3-D technology presented at the State College of Optometry in NYC, Dr. Michael Duenas* explained the deficiencies of the current system of providing eyecare to America’s children. Vision screenings do not do a very good job of identifying children with vision problems. Even when identified, very few children receive the comprehensive eye exam that is required to diagnose the condition and initiate treatment. Too many students are sitting in classrooms without the visual skills required for learning. Often, the results are poor academic performance, a diagnosis of a learning disability or ADHD, or even behavioral issues that could lead to juvenile deliquency. What if those children could be identified by giving them the opportunity to view a 3-D movie in the school auditorium?
3-D technology is not only about entertainment. There is a new world evolving, and it is based on the application of 3-D technology in new and exciting ways. Education is using 3-D content in classrooms. Imagine an astronomy lesson presented in 3-D, with the planets orbiting the sun. The use of 3-D technology is becoming so integral to surgery that medical students without the required visual skills may have to consider other specialties. Optometrists and optometry students understand the importance of 3-D viewing when using the biomicroscope or binocular ophthalmoscope to evaluate ocular structures. Nanotechnology, fluid dynamics, biochemistry, engineering, aviation, architecture, the military…… all these professions and fields of study are using 3-D technology in design, simulations, research, production, and education. This list is likely to expand as the technology improves and more creative applications are developed. As Chris Haws** explained at the symposium, society will be enhanced by the application of 3-D technology far beyond entertainment. It makes sense to identify those individuals who cannot perceive 3-D images due to undetected visual problems as early as possible. Treatment will enable them to take full advantage of these applications which are becoming more embedded in their daily lives.
What can we expect as a result of this new partnership? Educational materials are being developed by both organizations to improve public health and vision and eye health. In the not too distant future, this partnership may develop public service announcements to be viewed before or after 3-D movies and TV shows. The public needs more education concerning the importance of 3-D vision to a comfortable and enjoyable experience, the visual problems that can disrupt this experience and the importance of comprehensive vision examinations for children and adults of all ages.
In the meantime, take your children to see a 3-D movie. If any of them experience any of the Ds of 3-D viewing, consider this a ‘blessing in disguise.” He or she may have an undiagnosed vision problem which has the potential to negatively impact their lives, in and out of the classroom. Make sure that child has a comprehensive vision examination. The sooner these vision problems are diagnosed and treatment is initiated, the better the outcomes.
Here is more information about 3-D viewing:
*Michael R. Duenas, O.D. is the Associate Director Health Sciences and Policy for the American Optometric Association, Washington, D.C.
**Mr. Chris Law is a psychologist, filmmaker, and producer with significant 3-D experience. He is an advisor to the 3D@Home Consortium’s Human Factors Steering Committee.