3D Movies: Are They a Boom or Bust?


What most people don’t realize is that 3D movies were developed and first shown in Los Angeles, CA in 1922. The movie was The Power of Love” and was in the “red/green anaglyph format that didn’t change until the 40’s with the introduction of Polarized lenses. I can still remember the red/green filters in the fifties and movies like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, House of Wax, and It Came from Outer Space. It was always exciting to compare what parts of the films were the scariest or most real. 3D movies didn’t have resurgence until 2009 with the showing of Avatar, one of the most expensive movies made at 237 million dollars and is still one of the highest grossing films ever.


To present a 3D or stereoscopic picture, two images are projected and superimposed on the screen through different polarized filters. The movie patron wears a pair of glasses with complimentary polarized filters so that each eye sees different images. This need to use both eyes together to obtain this 3D effect can have a negative effect on our eye. You might experience eye discomfort, nausea, dizziness or even loss of 3D effect. This can be caused if you have poor vision in one eye, difficulty in holding fusion of the two eyes (eye converge or diverge too much), or if your focusing is inefficient. If you experience any of these symptoms and find by closing one eye that the symptoms disappear, then 3 D movies might not be for you. The eyes and the brain must work together to make sense of all the images being sent to the eyes. The extra effort needed to hold the eyes together or to focus at the different distances may leave your child or you as the parent tired, with eyestrain, or even a headache as you exit the theater.


First you should have your child’s eye tested by your Optometrist. You want to make sure he/she doesn’t have an uncorrected prescription causing eye strain. The doctor would also evaluate your child for eye posture when looking both at distance and near point to make sure both eyes are working together. Finally they would be checked for focusing ability to see if there is plenty of focusing power so symptoms won’t occur while watching 3D movies. Another solution might be Optometric Vision Therapy which would provide special techniques to help your child coordinate their eyes and change focus with for efficiency and reduce the symptoms when viewing these movies. These programs can be provided by Optometrists who are member of the College of Optometrist in Vision Development. Check out the video below for more information about this topic.

~Philip B. Smith, OD, FCOVD
E-mail: drphilsmith68@gmail.com
California Optometric Association

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