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Clinic designed as prototype for OD practices, research network

November 15, 2011

Ken Eakland, O.D., Pacific University College of Optometry associate dean of clinical programs, in the 3-D Vision Performance Eye Clinic’s “theater for one.”

The AOA Clinical and Practice Advancement Group hopes the Oregon clinic will serve as the prototype for similar 3-D facilities in optometric practices across the nation, according to Michael Duenas, O.D., AOA associate director of Health Sciences & Policy.

“All ODs should consider setting up at least a mini  3-D clinic within their offices,” Dr. Duenas said.

Dr. Duenas believes demand for 3-D vision services in optometric practices could increase sharply over the coming months as movie studios release a new wave of planned 3-D “blockbusters” and several manufacturers plan to introduce 3-D eyewear for sale through eye care practices.

Sony, a major manufacturer of 3-D projection equipment, recently announced it will no longer offer complimentary, disposable 3-D eyewear to client theaters for distribution to moviegoers.

Moreover, Dr. Duenas believes demand for 3-D vision care will continue to grow steadily over the coming years as 3-D technology is increasingly introduced in academic, health care, and industrial settings.  Three-dimensional learning software programs are already being introduced in classrooms around the nation, Dr. Duenas observed. Many architects and engineers are already using 3-D software in their offices. Applications of 3-D technology for medical imaging and control of manufacturing processes are rapidly being introduced to market, Dr. Duenas said.

“Emphasis on 3-D vision care could offer a very effective way to assist individuals in getting the optometric care that they may have needed for a long time,” Dr. Duenas said.

“Optometry is the only health care profession with a library of research and history of practical experience in the fields of binocular and stereoscopic vision,” Dr. Duenas noted.

To further develop that body of knowledge, the new 3-D Vision Performance Clinic is launching an unprecedented, long-range research program, said James Sheedy, O.D., Ph.D., Pacific University College of Optometry Vision Perform-ance Institute director.

“Patient data, carefully tracked in a custom-developed records system, will be used to develop a research base on how the human visual system perceives 3-D media, new tests for 3-D-related vision problems, and advances in treatment,” Dr. Sheedy said. The comprehensive data will be carefully analyzed for use in published studies, he said.

As THX continues to develop technologies and techniques that enhance the consumer’s entertainment experience, as well as experience in other relevant aspects of the technology, this research data will be used by THX in the development of industry standards for 3-D motion pictures, videos, audio equipment, computer game software, 3-D displays and other uses of the technology.

Originally a subsidiary of film director George Lucas’ Lucasfilm studio, THX has for nearly 30 years set industry-wide audio and video performance standards for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, audio equipment, gaming consoles and car audio systems. It was originally established to find a way to improve cinematic sound production and enhance the way moviegoers experience feature films to coincide with the release of Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” in 1983. 

“Today THX Certified Cinemas continue to deliver movies the way they were intended to be seen,” said Dean.

The THX logo is displayed at the beginning or end of films and in the lobbies of movie theaters that meet the entity’s cinematic standards.  It also appears on various audio and video systems that are THX-certified – meaning they are rigorously tested to meet the company’s various certification standards. 
 THX is the only company today with an existing certification program for 3-D displays, including projectors, Dean said.  As Pacific University’s 3-D Vision Performance Eye Clinic research evolves, THX will continue to progress in developing its testing and standards for future THX Certified 3-D equipment, he said. 

In addition to THX, data will be provided to other standard-setting entities, such as the American National Standards Institute and to appropriate government agencies, such as the National Eye Institute, Dr. Sheedy said.

The 3D@Home Consortium in conjunction with the AOA, THX and the clinic staff hope to rapidly provide for a truly broad-based, ongoing study of 3-D vision issues by establishing a practice-based research network (PBRN) of optometric offices across the nation.  Participating practices would be required to provide care and report data using the protocols established for the original 3-D clinic in Oregon – although perhaps using a somewhat less extravagant 3-D projection system, Dr. Sheedy said.

The planned research network, to be known as PBRN – Optometry 3-D, would be established in compliance with federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research guidelines and could, in itself, represent an important achievement for optometry, according to Dr. Sheedy.

The federal government is actively encouraging the development of such practice-based research network as a means of addressing community-based health care questions and translating research findings into practice, Dr. Duenas notes.

Participating practices would have access to information on research findings and treatment breakthroughs developed through the program, Dr. Duenas said.

“Optometrists must make full use of their ownership of the 3-D vision issue,” said Dr. Duenas.

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