Charlie Fitzpatrick, President of NJSOP, sent an email with news from Ophthalmology Times that the AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) has figured out that headache and tired eyes associated with with 3-D games may indicate “eye disorder”. The item was based on a consumer alert issued by the AAO through its eyeSmart portal regarding children’s vision and eye health and 3-D digital products. The alert concludes that children who have conditions such as amblyopia and strabismus, or “other conditions that persistently inhibit focusing, depth perception or normal 3-D vision” (though we’re not told what those conditions might be) would have difficulty seeing digital 3-D images. Individuals who have these vision disorders may be more likely to experience headaches and/or eye fatigue when viewing 3-D digital images. If such problems occur, the Academy recommends that the child be given a comprehensive exam by an ophthalmologist.
What’s the logic behind the AAO release, other than as a reaction to the release issued by the American Optometric Association (AOA) two weeks prior?
In fact, if I’m a consumer, I might be just a bit confused. Looking at the AAO eyeSmart site, I’d see the following information about 3D media:
“Some people complain of headaches or motion sickness when viewing 3-D, which may indicate that the viewer has a problem with focusing or depth perception. Also, the techniques used to create the 3-D effect can confuse or overload the brain, causing some people discomfort even if they have normal vision. Taking a break from viewing usually relieves the discomfort.”
See the circular logic here? According to the AAO, if you experience problems viewing 3D media, it may signal that you have an eye disorder. If you have strabismus, you simply won’t see 3D – but you won’t have any discomfort. If you experience blur, headaches, fatigue or motion sickness, you or your child should see an ophthalmologist. But what’s the ophthalmologist going to tell you? That’s right: Taking a break from viewing usually relieves the discomfort.
But gee, couldn’t I have figured that out by myself? How much more insightful is that than “If it hurts when you laugh, take breaks from laughing.” More importantly, what if I’m one of those for whom taking a break doesn’t relieve the discomfort? If this turns out to be a sign that I have one of those conditions that “persistently inhibits focusing, depth perception or normal 3-D vision”, what can I do about it?
You see where I’m going with this. Nowhere is the possibility raised by the AAO that the symptoms associated with 3D viewing might be alleviated with vision therapy. Ironically, under Eye Smart Tips, under the item “Know Your Eye Care Team”, the AAO writes: Make sure you are seeing the right eye care provider for your condition or treatment.
Here’s a thought question for you: If you have 3D viewing symptoms not relieved by taking breaks, how would you know if you’re seeing the right eye care provider for your condition or treatment? Perhaps the easiest clue would be that the guidance you’re given doesn’t have you running around in circles, or resigned to just having to live with it.
– Leonard J. Press, O.D. FCOVD, FAAO