More 3D Zombies

By Len Scrogan
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I hate fighting 3D Zombies. As soon as you dispatch one, another grotesque figure chins up, and here we go again. Another funny thing about zombies is it always seems like they sneak up on you. 

Of course, the zombie I am talking about is the long-buried yet persistent 3D canard:  “3D is bad for our children”. Here’s how this furphy recently came back from the dead.Zombie Face

It was a chilly and sunless day, unremarkable in many ways. A short and unassuming email message interrupted my otherwise monotonous screen. My daughter-in-law toned a short message, one that would soon unravel my day. “I saw this story on the BBC News iPhone App and thought you should see it”, she wrote. Take a look at the story yourself: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29932275.  According to this recent article, a fresh warning about possible eye damage to young children from exposure to 3D content, 3D is even bad for children below the age of fourteen. So says the French health watchdog, the Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses).

Fortunately, science has entered the room. I contacted some of the best vision health experts in the world, asking them to respond to this BBC article, hoping their advice would rescue us from this unwanted pseudodox. Here are their thoughts about this article, lest it be bruited about further:

Michael R. Dueñas, O.D., Chief Public Health Officer, American Optometric Association

 You are correct in that this statement is not based on science and evidence, as our AOA message is.

Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A Professor, Pediatrics/Binocular Vision, Illinois College of Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute Distinguished Practitioner, National Academies of Practice, Leonardo da Vinci Award of Excellence in Medicine

The statement that children of a certain age should not be viewing simulated 3D (video games, television, movies, etc.) is just not based on fact. There is NO EVIDENCE whatsoever to support such a statement.  For accurate information, see http://www.3deyehealth.org/

Jim Sheedy, OD, PhD., Director, Vision Performance Institute, Pacific University

What is the research? Research into the “possible impact”?  I have not seen any research that shows any untoward effects of 3D viewing upon the developing visual system”. There is a fairly large number of people about (20-30%) who experience discomfort or, for some other reason, do not enjoy the 3D experience.  The same seems true of children.  Just as with adults, discomfort is caused by viewing 3D but no longer-term damage or changes to the visual system are caused.

 Chris Haws,  Psychologist (visual perception expert)

It looks like the French have got the issue backwards.  3D viewing is perfectly fine for most kids and a sensitive diagnostic for kids with otherwise undetected vision difficulties.  So, it should be seen as a vision health opportunity rather than a problem.

Dr. Leonard Press, Developmental Optometrist

Fact is, no one has undertaken a study to my knowledge to investigate either the short or long terms effects of S3D viewing on the developing visual system.  The concerns that have been expressed center on the effects of artificial decoupling of accommodative/vergence interactions over a sustained period of time.  Some caution is understandable because we do know that there are accommodative hysteresis effects in sustained near viewing for susceptible young adults that may, for example, lead to myopic adaptations.  My feeling at present, until research proves otherwise, is a conservative approach akin to what your grandmother might have said about any other developmental activity:  “Everything in moderation …”

An expert who asked not to be identified, due to his use of profanity

…this is the same BS we’ve heard before!

Eyeball

As Dr. Press indicates, the health concern sits chiefly in the lap of sustained near viewing, which is an issue I am hearing about often from schools whose students are using personal devices all day long. The BBC article and the French seem to be missing the entire point recently evidenced by research in 3D vision: there are significant learning and vision health benefits associated with 3D viewing. Let’s not keep 3D away from kids, while scaring their parents in the process. Why can’t these 3D zombies just die? I suspect there is a financial interest somewhere in the background. Or the habitual need to push hysteria in order to sell copy. Either way, you now know enough to help us rid the world of these unwanted and delusory 3D zombies. – Len Scrogan