3D Technology Will Help ODs and Patients

Article by: Antonio Chirumbolo & Matthew Geller (SUNY 2013)

March 15, 2011 was a monumental day for our profession. The American Optometric Association (AOA) announced its partnership with the 3D @ Home Consortium, with the goal of improving the understanding of 3D viewing amongst individuals all over the world. Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which states their intent to share data and jointly promote vision health by utilizing 3D displays.

To put it in a nutshell, the AOA stepped up to the plate for us optometry students and optometrists and took the initiative to create a seamless pathway that will send individuals with problems viewing 3D, straight to the optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. As the use of 3D media becomes more prevalent, children may display indications of vision abnormalities that normally would go unprovoked. This will allow Optometrists and eye-care professionals to detect potential problems much earlier and treat them so the visual system can be corrected and develop normally, potentially changing their life!

Video Summary Of This Article

Who is not excited about the prospect of 3D television becoming mainstream in home entertainment? The type of technology that delivers and creates a virtual 3D viewing experience for users to become immersed in is only beginning to emerge from its shell. Movies like Avatar 3D are only mere demonstrations of how 3D viewing will revolutionize entertainment.  More than 100, 3D motion pictures are in the works right now while in the past 80 years, there have only been 200 total. It is projected that within 10 years, there will be 40 million 3D TV’s in the homes of the general population. The industry is growing, and it will not be long until 3D viewing experience becomes a standard of entertainment. Aside from entertainment however, 3D visual experience has and can be used to improve the quality of life and vision.

The revolution in 3D science has already begun as demonstrated by the increasing prevalence in neuro and vascular stereosurgery, as well as the advent of scientists utilizing 3D vision for protein analysis and nanotechnology. It is evident that 3D technology is becoming commonplace in the 21st century and all the more reason for individuals to ensure that their eyes can perform 3D viewing.

The ability to see in 3D requires various ocular motor movements like vergence, focusing abilities, and proper cortical development. If there is an abnormality in any of these systems, or rather some type of binocular vision problem, an individual may not be able to attain a 3D perception, or may even experience symptoms such as dizziness, headache, or nausea when viewing 3D media as opposed to standard two-dimensional viewing.

Some of the problems that occur early on in development of children that may be responsible for these types of issues include strabismus, ambylopia, inability to properly fuse images, or some other sort of deprivation that may affect the manner in which the cortex develops. Binocular vision problems are a significant problem and very common, especially in adolescents. Three to nine million people have some sort of binocular vision problem. Many children have binocular vision problems, and unfortunately, these problems go undetected until later on in adulthood. Why do visual problems and abnormal visual development in children seem to be so elusive to detect?

Here are some statistics that tell us what % of children receive eye care at what age.

7% at age 6

24% at age 6-11

30% at age 12-14

31% at age 15-17

The bottom line is children are receiving their first comprehensive eye exam much too late in growth and development. The school screenings that adolescents receive in order to detect if there may be a vision problem are far too flawed, and should not be a supplement for a true comprehensive eye exam. Screenings utilizing the standard Snellen acuity chart have 27% sensitivity as well as a large amount of false negatives, meaning that simple screenings are failing to detect children who have true vision problems. Taking the same screening test, and utilizing 3D viewing within it, the sensitivity drastically increases to 42% while reducing the number of false negatives.

Why is this so important?

An astounding 80% of learning is related to vision. This means that children who may be struggling in school, and who are labeled as “slow” learners, may in fact have some underlying type of vision problem that is being neglected. By utilizing 3D viewing systems and technology, we can detect vision problems that so widely exist in adolescents, correct them, and improve the quality of life of children as they mature and develop. The biggest challenge facing the utilization of 3D in vision care is finding a way to combine the two, and create awareness about the inherent public health benefits. Luckily, the AOA and 3D @ Home have provided that foundation to occur.

In Conclusion


We just want to say thank you to the AOA for really seizing this innovative opportunity and taking it to the next level. They didn’t just write a press release or send out and e-mail blast but they literally teamed up with the biggest names in 3D technology to make sure that when viewers can’t see 3D materials that they come straight to us future eye doctors for a comprehensive exam. That literally expands our patient base by MILLIONS considering that about 9 million people have binocular vision problems, and hence would have trouble watching a 3D movie. Now when people go and say, “hey, what does the AOA do for OD’s?” well it looks to me like they just generated OD’s thousands of new patients and improved the lives of the patients as well. So I tip my hat to the AOA leaders and 3D @ Home Consortium, thank you for looking out for the best interest of OD’s and for our patients by staying on the cusp of new technology and innovation.

Live Footage From The 3D Symposium

Be sure to view these websites for more information.



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