AOA’s 3-D partnerships highlight public health, awareness of need for eye care

June 4, 2011

The AOA’s campaign to ensure that a public health message is part of the hoopla over 3-D has resulted in hundreds of stories in the media and has helped the association build partnerships with people in the information technology, filmmaking and entertainment industries.


The campaign continues AOA’s 3-D education effort from last spring, tied to the release of the 3-D movie “Avatar,” which broke all box office records. The campaign included Dominick Maino, O.D., discussing binocular vision and stereopsis.


After Nintendo issued a warning to consumers that children under 6 should not use its about-to-be-released 3DS handheld gaming device, the AOA and members of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) said, in essence, “not so fast.”

The AOA viewed the attention as a “teachable moment” about public health, according to Michael Duenas, O.D., associate director, Health Sciences and Policy. Children under 6 who have trouble viewing 3D likely have an underlying condition, such as unequal uncorrected refractive error, convergence insufficiency, strabismus or amblyopia, which are all treatable, especially if caught early.

A press release by the AOA highlighting the diagnostic advantages of 3D devices was picked up widely by the media.

Leaders in the 3D industry also took notice. Most prominent is the 3D@Home Consortium, a group of more than 50 companies and organizations that are collaborating to ensure the quality of the viewing experience is as high as possible, from creating 3-D content, to transmitting digital information, to rendering it on TVs and other devices, to the viewers’ experience watching.

Dr. Duenas was invited to lecture at the First 3D Human Factors Symposium last December in San Diego, Calif., and  following his presentation the consortium and the AOA found multiple areas for cooperation, and decided a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) would be beneficial. Potential projects covered by the MOU include: 1) enhanced public and professional communication; 2) development and design of 3- D/S3-D-based vision risk assessment tools; 3) development and design of applied therapies; 4) providing new integrated efforts for quality improvement and evaluation; and 5) improved public health and vision and eye health.

A symposium on 3-D viewing at the State University of New York (SUNY) State College of Optometry on March 15 included Dr. Duenas speaking on the Public Health Implications of Virtual 3D. Jim Sheedy, O.D., Ph.D., of the Vision Performance Institute of Pacific University, addressed “The Visual System and Virtual 3D.” Chris Haws, a 3D videographer consultant and psychologist, covered “Creating  Virtual 3D Content” and Phil Corriveau, of the Intel Corporation described “Responsibilities of the 3D Industry.”

Two representatives of the 3D@Home Consortium, president Rick Dean and director Heidi Hoffman, covered the work of the group.

Two messages were most prominent during the symposium. First, there is a population – estimated at 10 percent – who cannot view 3-D. This group represents an underserved population with undiagnosed and untreated vision disorders that could benefit from comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist.

The second message was that 3-D vision is necessary for more than viewing entertainment;  for scores of careers such as neurosurgery and seismology it has become an integral part of the job and is  rapidly becoming commonplace in classrooms. The audience included media and representatives from the filmmaking  and technical fields, many of whom had worked with people who couldn’t view in 3-D.

The explanations by optometrists helped clarify why there was a missing component, and in at least one  case, prompted a filmmaker tocall past clients who had difficulty  viewing 3-D to urge them to get their eyes checked by an optometrist.

On the following day, 3-D was on the agenda of the Vision Monday Global Summit. Filmmaker Haws and AOA Executive Director Barry Barresi, O.D., Ph.D., told several hundred people in the ophthalmic community about the growth in 3-D  projects and the role of 3-D in today’s and tomorrow’s careers.

Dr. Barresi explained how the AOA was taking the lead in ensuring that the viewing public  gets the most out of 3-D content and how the growth of 3-D means a new opportunity for public health disease prevention and the entire vision  care community.

Representatives of the largest companies in that community, members of the Ophthalmic Council, meeing  in New York, heard about the MOU and the AOA’s ongoing initiatives to raise awareness of the need for regular vision exams.

Discussion included how the AOA is linking 3-D to public health and possible initiatives to help the public better understand the importance of eye care.

Drs. Duenas and Barresi, Chris Haws and Rick Dean of 3D@Home presented their perspectives and gave an overview of the AOA’s message.

As a result of the week’s activities, there were more than 215 million media impressions regarding the importance of 3- D vision and the AOA’s role.

In addition, the AOA and 3D@Home jointly launched a www.3deyehealth.org.

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