Atlanta—Are "Avatar" and other 3D movies an emerging public health opportunity for optometry as well as box office blockbusters? As 3D and stereoscopic 3D (S3D) become more common in movies and television, video games, mobile devices, and in the classroom and the workplace, many people will discover that they can't appreciate this new technology because of vision problems.
An estimated 3 million to 9 million people in the United States have binocular vision problems. Viewing 3D television and movies may make them aware of these problems and encourage them to seek treatment, according to Leonard J. Press, OD, FCOVD, FAAO, a developmental optometrist in Fair Lawn, NJ.
"Not only are we seeing changes in terms of media, but more and more jobs are requiring 3D," said Gary Etting, OD, FCOVD, of Los Angeles. Drs. Press and Etting discussed the clinical implications of viewing 3D media at SECO International 2012 in March.
'More careful' evaluation
They urged their colleagues to brush up their skills to prepare for more patients coming in with 3D vision problems. "You don't have to become a developmental optometrist or provide vision therapy in your office," Dr. Etting said. "But you need to be more careful in your evaluation to make sure that you're looking for these potential problems."
The most common visual problems associated with S3D technology are discomfort, dizziness, and lack of depth. Testing phoria, vergence ranges, amplitude, lag, facility, AC/A ratios, and visual stress are key to evaluating accommodative-vergence interaction.
"The more testing you do, the better insight you'll get into how well equipped your patient's binocular and accommodative system is to handle this visual event," Dr. Press said. "Dust off your old optometry notes from school, buy a book, take a course."
Using clinical guidelines
AOA has published clinical guidelines on accommodative-vergence interaction. AOA also co-sponsored a 3D vision and eye health symposium last year and helped prepare a public health report on 3D use in the classroom. The guidelines include a list of questions for evaluating the impact 3D viewing can have on vision and eye health. (box)