Blockbuster 3-d Movie Isn't A Hit With Some Viewers; Those With Undiagnosed Vision Problems Leave Theaters Sick

California Optometric Association (COA) Urges Those Experiencing Symptoms Watching 3-D Films to Schedule Optometric Exams.

From Avatar to Alice in Wonderland (coming March 5), 3-D films are taking moviegoers by storm, but the 3-D excitement has turned into an alarming wakeup call for some viewers.

"Many people are first realizing they have a vision disorder when they go to Avatar and can't see the 3-D effects, or they get a headache or feel dizzy. For some, the movie has actually become a kind of screening for vision problems that can truly interfere with people's quality of life outside the movie theater," said Los Angeles optometrist Dr. Elise Brisco of the California Optometric Association (COA).

Research shows that over 50 percent of the population will have difficulty experiencing 3-D movies due to poor binocular vision skills.* Up to five percent of the population will not be able to experience 3-D at all due to either strabismus/crossed eyes, which is the inability to align both eyes simultaneously or amblyopia/lazy eye, which is the loss or lack of development of central vision in one eye. For these people, the images that others see jumping off the screen will simply look flat.

The real problem, however, is that these vision problems affect more than just the ability to see 3-D movies, they can impair hand-eye coordination, depth perception and reading ability, as well as lead to headaches, blurred vision, balance disturbances and nausea.

"People who cannot see the 3-D effects or notice symptoms such as headaches, nausea or dizziness in the theater in either themselves or their children should schedule an appointment with their optometrist so they can diagnose vision problems," continues Dr. Brisco. "The good news is that conditions such as strabismus and amblyopia are treatable, and with proper treatment, people will be able to enjoy things like 3-D movies, reading and playing sports without any problems."

While movie goers around the world have reported feeling sick after viewing 3-D films, those who live in California can easily find a local optometrist by clicking on the advance search feature on the "Find an EyeDoc" link on

The California Optometric Association (COA), founded in 1899, is California's oldest recognized organization for optometrists. It represents over 2,700 optometrists in the state. COA is dedicated to assuring the highest quality of health care for the public through the advancement of optometry. For more information, log onto

* Montes-Mico R. Prevalence of general dysfunctions in binocular vision. Annals of Ophthalmology. 2001; Volume 33, 3: 205-208.


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