Article Date: 6/1/2013

3D and the O.D.

3D and the O.D.

The diagnosis and treatment of binocular vision disorders should be a priority in your practice. Here’s why.


Although 3D films, in one form or another, have been around for almost 100 years, 2009’s Avatar is credited with restoring excitement for the technology: Most theatergoers were riveted by how the film’s characters and Pandora’s lush hyper-colored landscape seemed to literally jump off the screen. In addition, many eyecare practitioners often acknowledge the film for placing a spotlight on binocular vision (BV) disorders, as other audience members complained of dizziness, nausea, double vision and headaches while watching the movie.


Those patients who “don’t see what the big deal is” or complain of dizziness, nausea, double vision and headaches while watching a 3D movie may have a binocular vision disorder.

Given an optometrist’s extensive education in the diagnosis and treatment of BV disorders, you are in the perfect position to help these patients enhance their 3D-viewing experience.

Here, I explain the other reasons you should make BV disorders a priority in your practice.

1 BV disorders are a pervasive problem.

Almost one-third (28%) of adults said they experienced discomfort while viewing 3D media, citing headaches (32%), dizziness (22%), nausea (14%) and blurry vision (10%), says the findings of a recent VSP survey on 3D. And, of those with children, headache (39%), dizziness (24%), nausea (25%), eyes hurt (15%) and “other” (16%) were given as reasons for their child’s discomfort with 3D media. The survey was comprised of 1,010 responses (298 from parents with children younger than age 18 living at home).

In addition, anywhere from 3 to 9 million people in the United States have BV problems, which prevent them from watching 3D TV and movies, says the American Optometric Association (AOA).

The bottom line: Several of these patients exist, and they need your help.

2 3D is a fixture in entertainment.

3D technology has become ingrained in the entertainment industry.

This month, Man of Steel (the Superman reboot), World War Z (a Zombie pandemic) and Monsters University (the prequel to Disney’s Monsters, Inc.) are available in 3D film. Despicable Me 2 kicks off July, followed by five other 3D movie offerings for the month. A total of 15 additional 3D films debut through the remainder of 2013.

In looking at television, ESPN 3D, a 24/7 all-sports 3D channel has broadcast 350 sporting events in 3D and will continue to show college football and basketball games in this format weekly. In addition, 3net, a 3D channel, by Discovery, Sony and IMAX, offers a variety of programs in 3D under the genres “Adrenaline & Adventure,” “Documentary and Culture,” “Kids & Family” and “Movies & Entertainment.”

Also, consider this: Roughly 80% of the flat screens currently leaving the factories are 3D ready, says DisplaySearch. And, by 2016, 60 million 3DTV sets will be in U.S. households, says the Consumer Electronics Association. Further, recent research indicates that 3DTV set owners are likely to watch as many as five hours of 3D movies on Blu-ray disc every week, says the Consumer Electronics Association. But, that’s not all: Autostereoscopic flat screens are being placed in gas stations and food marts. The reason: Marketers find that people who see a 3D commercial focus more on the product and the actor, and, therefore, have better recall and intent-to-buy reactions.

Finally, Universal Studios and Disney theme parks now feature 3D technology rides.

When given the choice, more than 70% choose to view in 3D vs. 2D, says the AOA’s 3D Vision & Eye Health (

3 Other industries are getting in on it.

More than 20 industries will utilize and/or require employees to understand 3D in their training and/or in their work, says the AOA. In optometry alone, 3D viewing is poised to replace low-sensitivity vision screening methodologies in the United States, such as the Snellen chart, which has 27% sensitivity. The reason: Because 3D viewing requires both eyes to function in a coordinated manner, it can unmask previously undiagnosed deficiencies and help identify and even treat these problems, says Dori M. Carlson, former AOA president. For example, Amblyz glasses, from XPAND 3D, use active shutter technology, a form of 3D technology, to replace patching ( in amblyopic patients.

In operating theaters, surgeons are using 3D cameras and screens to enhance their ability to see minute details.

Soldiers are now wearing 3D glasses during military simulations to prepare for action.

Teachers throughout the United States are using 3D technology in the classroom. A total of 46% of children who observe their lessons via a DLP 3D Ready projector display an increase in student engagement and a 34% growth in test scores, Texas Instruments says.

Scientists have also utilized 3D technology. For instance, the Mars Rover, Curiosity, returned stereo pictures to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to better reveal the surface of the planet’s landscape.

As 3D technology is fast becoming a part of various industries, people will be looking for a healthcare professional who can enable them to maximize their viewing ability.

Sooner than you think

Before long, 3D technology will permeate our society. To attract and retain patients who have BV disorders and garner patient referrals, you must actively market your ability to diagnose and treat these patients.

To accomplish this, Michael Duenas, O.D., AOA chief health officer, recommends you ask each and every one of your patients:

Do you experience discomfort, during or after watching 3D media?

Are you unable to see 3D differently when looking with one eye vs. both eyes?

Also, include a 3D test during your exam, and provide literature and resources on 3D viewing, he says. (See “3D Media Can Usher in New Patients,” aspx?articleID=104437.)

“ … 3D viewing can help find most vision problems; and these vision problems can easily be treated by an optometrist,” Dr. Duenas explains. “It provides a ‘reason to go’ have a comprehensive eye examination.”

Remember: For everyone to enjoy what 3D technology has to offer, they’ll need a partner professional to keep their eyes healthy. And, for that, we in the 3D industry are depending on you. OM


Mr. Chabin is the president of the International 3D Society, which seeks to advance the art and technologies of stereoscopic 3D content and its professional innovators. The organization hosts educational opportunities for showcasing work, recognizing achievement and advancing member growth, and it is open to individuals and organizations active in moving 3D media to a new era of creative achievement and consumer support. E-mail him at, or send comments to

Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: June 2013, page(s): 65 66 67