December 16, 2013

Zombie Apocalypse

Last week we continued the discussion about the recent problem with Apple’s new iPhone iOS7 making people sick. In the first post of this four-part series, I suggested that the real story is about a lesson not yet learned, in fact, about two lessons not yet learned. This week's post focuses on lesson #2.

Lesson #2: The 3D experience can provide an indicator of underlying vision problems.
Now, if you read the recent post of Christopher Mims, Hurl into this! Digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century, you would certainly imagine a new world threat has arrived on the scene; or at least, that the zombie apocalypse is upon us. He complains: “I get headaches at 3D movies and motion sick at the slightest provocation.” Apparently, the newest Apple 3D parallax feature comes right at the heels of previous and wanton 3D destruction. He warns of a new zombie apocalypse: “the 21st century is going to be one you’ll want to spend hiding from just about every kind of innovation in human-computer interfaces.” Mr. Mims is recognizing a genuine problem, but he is partially misinformed.

Perhaps Dr. Dominick Maino (OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A), an internationally recognized expert in pediatrics/binocular vision at the Illinois College of Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute, explains it best: "Vision induced motion sickness has been recognized for decades. It is frequently called "See Sickness" or Neuro-Ocular Vestibular Dysfunction. Many experience blurred vision, diplopia, headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, malaise, and drowsiness.”

Further Dr. Maino advises that such symptoms are treatable and therefore avoidable:  “It can be successfully diagnosed and treated by an optometrist specifically trained to evaluate the functional capabilities of your vision. These optometrists can be found at” He recommends reviewing an excellent presentation/discussion on this topic at:" Sometimes the solution is as simple as tweaking your contact or glass prescriptions, as is the case with many adults. Sometimes it can be resolved with vision correction (eyeglasses), vision therapy, or a combination of both.

Dr. Jeri Schneebeck (Optometrist, F.C.O.V.D), a highly respected Colorado vision expert and owner of Colorado’s only 3D vision lab, knows that this is not just about poor 3D design:  “It’s about vision,” she confirms.  In fact, the day I interviewed her about this Apple issue, she was reminded that she just had a patient complain to her today that she had a significant vision problem with her new iPhone, and had returned it to the store. Zeroing in on understanding this new Apple iPhone parallax issue, another Colorado optometrist, Dr. Jacinta Yeung (OD, MEd/VFL), observes: “I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly which part of the visual system would ‘cause’ this discomfort. It is probably a combination of factors but it would be nice to evaluate a group of these individuals to see if there is a common weakness in their visual system.”  She has also heard of patients reporting this problem. In the meantime, folks are turning off the effect.

So here we are again, revisiting the vision health issues identified in some of my past posts. Most notably, I want to point our readers to two predictions I made for the year 2013 in my post, Whither eS3D:
  • The vision health issue will struggle to receive the attention it deserves due to inability of the medical community to employ effective marketing and PR strategies.
  • The struggle to debunk 3D mythologies (3D is bad for you, it makes everyone sick, it hurts children) won’t go away. We’ll still have to wrestle with those unfortunate media-generated sound bites for some time.
Yes, we still have our work cut out for us. Mr. Mims was correct in some ways: Poorly designed 3D can cause problems, all by itself. You have to pay attention to these things, Apple. But he was totally off base in terms of the bigger picture of 3D and vision health. These hurtful zombies keep coming back to life. We just have to stop feeding them. Maybe it’s time to bite back.

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