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Having trouble with 3D? Get an eye exam

Consumer Reports News: March 16, 2011 11:01 AM

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If you're one of those people who either aren't able to experience 3D programming or are bothered by it, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has some advice: Get a comprehensive eye examination.

According to the association, the inability to have a satisfying experience with 3D could be an indication of an undiagnosed eye disorder. As a result, the association is teaming up with the 3D@Home Consortium to create an information- and data-sharing program to help improve understanding of 3D technology "as a safe and appropriate technology for all viewing audiences." The two groups will also jointly promote vision health, using stereoscopic 3D displays for potential undiagnosed eye disorders.

Essentially, the AOC believes that 3D can be used as a screener for potential undiagnosed eye disorders. Since only three states currently have mandatory comprehensive eye exams for children entering public schools, the AOA is hoping to use 3D viewing experiences as an early detection mechanism for uncovering other eye-related issues, at an age when the majority of them can still be corrected.

At a symposium in New York City yesterday, the two organizations issued a Memorandum of Understanding. It states that potential projects include:

  • Enhanced public and professional communication;
  • Development and design of 3D/S3D-based vision risk-assessment tools;
  • Development and design of applied therapies;
  • New integrated efforts for quality improvement and evaluation; and
  • Improved public vision and eye health.

"The AOA, representing America's family eye doctors, will be of great assistance to the 3D@Home Consortium in broadening their understanding of the human visual system," said Dori Carlson, OD, President-Elect of the AOA, in a statement released at the event. "We also know that 3D viewing may help discover subtle vision disorders in both children and adults, that, left uncorrected, interfere with the 3D viewing experience, and even result in the '3Ds of 3D viewing'--discomfort, dizziness, or lack of depth."

In a Q&A with the press, members of the two organizations said they were considering various public outreach initiatives, including public service announcements before and after 3D movies at theaters and at retail to encourage those who have issues to get an eye exam.

Although there has been some concern that prolonged or frequent viewing of 3D content can actually cause eye problems, AOA-member panelists said there is no evidence that supports the notion that any long-term damage is caused by 3D viewing. If there was, one member suggested, no AOA member would be on the panel.

If you'd like to get more information, check out the new website. And the AOA is creating a new 3D-focused area,called 3Deyehealth, on its landing page.

--James K. Willcox


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