3-D movies and strabismus
December 6, 2008 11:29 AM   Subscribe

How would my 6yo daughter with strabismus perceive a 3-D movie?

My daughter will be undergoing her third eye surgery in a few weeks for recurrent strabismus. Her first surgery was at 10mo old, when her right eye turned in toward her nose. The second surgery corrected an outward/upward drift of the same eye when she was 4yo. This next surgery will try and further correct the same outward drift again, but this time pulling in the medial (rather than lateral) muscles.

She has little to no binocular vision, and when she looks above her eyeglass frames, she has double out of that right eye (sadly, I only just recently found this out during her exam).

Since I can't really communicate to her exactly what dimensionality is since she's never actually experienced it, what would she see if I took her to see a 3-D movie (complete with the dorky red/green glasses)? Would she just see the red/green shadows? It's something she really wants to see - Bolt! In 3-D!! (what can I say, she's 6...) but I don't want to take her if she's going to end up with a screaming headache or even worse eyestrain as a result.

I read this thread, but it didn't quite answer my question.

posted by dancinglamb to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
'Disney Digital 3d' isn't red-green glasses stereoscopy - It's done by Circular polarization, which means it's in color.

As such, you can watch it without glasses and it's just a little fuzzy and flickery, or (I think!) you could scoop an extra pair of glasses from the theatre ahead of time and use arts-and-crafts genius to flip one of the lenses over, and it should provide a mostly normal 2-D viewing experience, by showing just one channel through both eyes. Might be worth having in your pocket, just in case the 3D dosen't work out.

posted by Orb2069 at 11:47 AM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Get a pair of 3D glasses and try out a 3D image on her. If it works, there's no reason a movie won't. 3D images are plentiful online:

posted by interrobang at 11:47 AM on December 6, 2008

You can get her the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus 3-D concert DVD, which comes with the glasses. Test things out at home, and see how she does? Since Disney had a hand in this too, maybe it will be the same technology.

It's actually not that bad, as far as tween pop sensation concert movies go.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:26 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Um, to counter Orb, even circular polarization images are still a pain to look at without the glasses. It's *quite* blurry and fuzzy; unreasonably so.

I'm not sure how Bolt would look to her, but Bolt is available in 2D, too. And for what it's worth, it's absolutely hilarious. I mean, seriously, seriously funny. Subtle, too.
posted by disillusioned at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2008

I have a slight strabismus, and 3D stuff just doesn't work for me. If it's the red/green shadow movies I see the shadows without the glasses. For most Disney stuff (Disney World shows etc.) I wouldn't really see much of anything out of the ordinary, and with the glasses on, I sometimes could get it so I even saw a little of what might have been 3D action.

Anyway, Bolt should be fine. Like Orb said, it should be in color and will be enjoyable even if she can't see all of the 3D stuff.
posted by Kimothy at 12:29 PM on December 6, 2008

Best answer: interrobang and SuperSquirrel, as Orb2069 mentioned, the type of 3-D used in the theaters these days isn't color-based anaglyph 3-D, as in the page you linked to or on that Hannah Montana DVD. What's used in the theaters is a new process called REAL-D, and which Disney calls Disney Digital 3-D. Bolt in 3-D uses glasses that are clear and slightly tinted grey; polarization separates the images.

Here's a real-world "what if" situation: I've always loved 3-D movies (and think that the newer 3-D processes are absolutely incredible). My wife, on the other hand, has a minor (and quite lovely) birth defect in her right eye that can make it lazy and typically prevents her from seeing in 3-D. She had tried the color-glasses 3-D and just ended up with headaches. But she decided to humor me and our daughter, and go with us to one of the recent 3-D animated films.

As the REAL-D titles started up, she grabbed my leg -- my wife could see it in 3-D! She's gone with us to every 3-D film since, and has said that for her, it's "much more" 3-D than in the real world, and it seems just as much fun for her as it is for me.

If your daughter can see reasonably clearly with her normal glasses, and can fit the 3-D glasses over those glasses, the experience may actually be a perfectly good one -- she may actually be able to see the effect as intended. I agree with Orb rather than disillusioned -- it's just blurry if you take the glasses off. She'd still be able to follow the movie if it all doesn't work out.

The first 10 minutes or so of Bolt has some intense action for a 6 year old, believe it or not; I'd be more worried that she might find it a bit scary rather than have vision trouble with the 3-D process. But if she's excited about it and is "READY FOR BOLT!!!", I'd say go for it.
posted by eschatfische at 12:36 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

My mother has severe strabismus. As a result, she is only able to see out of one eye at a time. She has told me that, at a 3-D movie, it is blurry and irritating without the glasses and simply looks like a regular 2-D movie with them. Her situation may be different since your daughter seems to have some binocular vision even if it's not lined up the way it should be.
posted by MasterShake at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, eschatfische, you made me so happy to think that Sophie might be able to actually see something in 3-D! She's been talking about BOLT! for months and we wanted to surprise her with the 3-D version (her 6th birthday is actually this coming Wednesday and this would be one of the 'goodies'). And thanks for the heads up about the first ten minutes; my 4yo daughter is coming with us. I'll be prepared for some lap-sitting!

Thanks to everybody else for your responses. Part of the catch is that we want to take the girls to see the movie later this afternoon, so any advance preparation (getting the glasses in advance) isn't really a possibility. SuperSquirrel, I'm aware of the HM 3-D set, but I am sooooo not willing to cross over into HM world. Not when I'm still able to effectively censor what she watches. :)

I will post back and report on what Sophie thinks.

Thanks again.
posted by dancinglamb at 12:53 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Strictly anecdotal, but I was in my mid-20s when my opthamologist discovered that not only were my eyes out of alignment, I also had some sort of muscle problem. It wasn't strabismus, and for all outward appearances my eyes looked normal. However, ever since I was a kid I'd noticed that when I alternately closed my eyes, the image would appear higher on one side than the other. As I grew older, I developed something akin to "double vision" when looking at objects in the distance or out the corner of my eyes (I was already wearing glasses for nearsightedness). Anyway, I was given several tests with 3D images and everything looked flat to me; I couldn't pick out which wing of the butterfly stood out. I was given a new eyeglass prescription that included prisms in the lenses. The new glasses helped the double vision problem, but 3D movies (those shown at midnight movie theaters where you had to wear the blue/red glasses) still looked flat to me; I saw no depth whatsoever.

Flash forward 15 years and Mr. Adams and I visited Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. There were certain exhibits where you had to wear cheap sunglasses (not blue/red), and I had low expectations. During the first presentation we sat through, I screeched in fear when it appeared that spiders were dropping into my lap. Whatever the technology they used, I did indeed get the full 3D effect.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:00 PM on December 6, 2008

I watched something in 3-D about two weeks ago, and my left eye defaults to the corner of my nose. Bonus: my regular glasses are polarized, and I was standing off to one side of the theater.

It maybe wasn't as 3-D as my pals elsewhere in the theater were getting, but I put the glasses over my own and it worked out.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:11 PM on December 6, 2008

Regardless of whether it's color anaglyph or not, the polarized glasses method is the same thing--the screen flashes one eye's view, then another. The glasses separate them out, because the lenses are polarized in different directions. The principle is the same. If you daughter can see an anaglyph image with red-green or red-blue glasses, then any polarized 3D will work as well.
posted by interrobang at 1:22 PM on December 6, 2008

In the case of IMAX movies, the lenses are synchronized with the flashing of the screen. I don't know if the Disney 3D is the same, but either way, 3D works because one eye sees one image, and the other sees another image--the left eye's view and the right eye's view, like alternating the closing and opening of your eyes. I stand by the anaglyph test!
posted by interrobang at 1:24 PM on December 6, 2008

Response by poster: Well, Sophie was able to see the movie in 3-D! Or at least, as she said to me, it looked 'like a pop-up book'. :)

And yes, the movie is pretty funny. Not nearly as awesome as Pixar stuff, but still good. My favourites had to be the pigeons.

Thanks again for all the input.
posted by dancinglamb at 5:04 PM on December 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

Late comer, but if she can process the cinema 3D version of Bolt her vision is ok, and I wouldn't be worrying about it too much just yet. I'm totally monocular (due to retinoblastoma) and found the regular version spectacular - the closest I've come to real 3D, despite being absolutely unable to process real 3D (which the version of Bolt I've seen is far from).

For proper 3D (red-green) movies, if she is truly monocular they will show as clearly differentiated, red-green outlined images that never match up, and she will get a headache watching them. And if she is monocular, she'll be okay! She can play sport, get a driver's license and a proper job - she might just be a bit blinkered/one-eyed in how she views the world sometimes, that's all! 3D movies and and 'magic eye' pictures aren't that special, after all!; but I'm glad she enjoyed it, all the same.
posted by goo at 11:28 PM on December 6, 2008

What's used in the theaters is a new process called REAL-D, and which Disney calls Disney Digital 3-D. Bolt in 3-D uses glasses that are clear and slightly tinted grey; polarization separates the images.

The HM movie at the theater was in Real-D. I still have the glasses, which are exactly as you describe. Not sure what the DVD is like though.

I'm so glad to hear the OP's daughter enjoyed the movie. Before this question, I didn't know Bolt was in 3-D. Now I want to see it!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:31 AM on December 7, 2008

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