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The Clock is Ticking in 3D | Long Island Eye Doctor

Joel Kestenbaum, OD

I recently attended a conference about 3D at the State University of New York Optometry School.   Topics were related to 3D or 3 Dimensions (the ability of our eyes, or more importantly, our brain, to perceive depth) and how it affects our lives today and how our ability to perceive 3D will affect our lives in the future.  In our everyday lives we use depth perception to drive a car, excel in sports, step off a curb, pick up an object in front of us and enjoy entertainment like the movie Avatar in 3D.  Without the use of both eyes functioning together, our ability to do what seems to be simple to most of us is diminished.

Most of my readers have had their vision tested using a Snellen Chart in an eye doctor’s office along with a host of other diagnostic tests to determine if the eyes are functioning properly.  The Snellen Chart is the one with the big “E”.  These charts are often used by pediatricians and school nurses as screenings to assess a child’s vision.  WHAT I LEARNED TODAY WAS MINDBOGGLING.  I always knew that pediatricians and school nurses missed vision problems in 30% of the children they screened…….But I was dead wrong.  New statistics recently published show that this number was close to 72%.  That’s amazing!  Perhaps that is one reason that children in the United States are falling behind other countries in science and math scores and more.  What is even more amazing is that the protocols these professionals are using to refer these kids to the eye doctor is more outdated that a dial-up telephone.

The 3D symposium opened my eyes to the future — 3D movies, 3D TV, 3D cell phones, 3D cameras, 3D computers, 3D learning, 3D surgery and so much more.  Doctors will be doing (and have already started to do so today) virtual surgery.  And they need good depth perception to do this.  This is not the distant future.  This is today.  Students who now learn about a DNA double helix from books or on the smart board will soon be able to sit in the middle of the double helix and view specific genes in 3D.  Learning will be different in tomorrow’s classroom.  STUDENTS WHO ONLY USE ONE EYE AT A TIME WILL BE LIMITTED IN THEIR LEARNING CAPABILITIES.  Both eyes are needed to send equal signals to the brain so the brain can perceive depth.

Nintendo is releasing a new 3D video toy for children within the next few months.  Only those children with efficient binocular vision will excel in these games…. And this will only be the beginning.  Parents need to know that when their children “fail” or do poorly at these tasks, there may be a vision or perceptual problem.  And they must know this and do something about it before the child is 7 years of age.  And even this may be too late.  The earlier vision problems are determined in children, the easier they are to correct for a lifetime of learning.

Do you want your child to have the opportunity to be a doctor, an astronaut, a pilot or some other profession that will require excellent depth perception (3D)?   Do you want your child to have the opportunity to enjoy 3D movies, TV and more like people with “normal” depth perception can?  Early detection of visual issues is imperative to a child’s development and future.   The simple enjoyment of these entertainment venues that we take for granted are compromised by poor depth deception.

Researchers are developing new 3D tools for eye doctors and educators to screen your children for earlier detection of underlying vision problems.  As an optometrist, it is my job to find vision solutions that will offer my patients an opportunity for a good user experience when it comes to the 3D technology of the future.

“The Clock is Ticking in 3D”.  Have your child’s eyes professionally examined.

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Dr. Joel Kestenbaum


  1. Dr. Kestenbaum,

    I really enjoyed your article on the ways 3D will affect our children’s futures. I am sadly not surprised by the statistics. The schools have failed to give vision the importance it deserves. In fact, there are times when it seems that teachers and school officials are the biggest obstacles in the way of children being treated for vision disorders. Thanks for your thoughtful commentary on this important subject.

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