Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health Risks and Dangers of the 3D TV

Health Risks and Dangers of the 3D TV

3D movies are all the rage, but as many as 50% of viewers ages 18-40 may have some issues viewing 3D movies including headaches, nausea, dizziness, eyestrain or discomfort. Approximately 5 percent of the population cannot view movies in 3D at all due to a lack of stereoscopic vision most often related to Amblyopia (Lazy eye) and/or Strabismus. But now 3D movie viewing isn't just for the big screen, it has entered the home theatre market with the introduction of 3D home theatres from Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony (slated for summer 2010).

A starter setup for a Samsung 3D television, a 3D blu-ray player, and 3D kit (which includes 2 pair of specialized 3D glasses) is priced around $3000 and upwards (depending on the size of the TV). The glasses are unlike the red/blue glasses of the past and similar to the recyclable glasses used in the movie theatre - but made to work specifically with the 3D Television. Additional 3D polarized glasses are priced around $150 per pair. Viewers (equipped with these pricey battery powered 3D glasses) will be able to watch 2D programming in 3D on the new 3D HDTV but the 'best' 3D effects will result when watching a 3D blu-ray disc through a connected 3D blu-ray player. Not only is the setup costly, it is important to note the possible health dangers.

Could watching too much 3D TV be bad for your health?

Health Warnings & Dangers!

The system carries warnings that prolonged exposure/viewing (or wearing of the glasses) may lead to nausea, altered vision, lightheadedness & dizziness, fatigue, headaches, convulsions, cramps, disorientation. Any sign of these symptoms and you should immediately discontinue 3D viewing.

-Do not view 3D movies if you are pregnant
-Do not view 3D movies if you have a heart condition.
-Do not view 3D movies in you have a history of stroke (or family history).
-Do not view 3D movies if you have epilepsy or a seizure disorder. Note: There is a high frequency of seizures among the autistic population.
-Viewing 3D TV not recommended for children under age 6 years old as well as the elderly (from the warning label of the Samsung 3D TV).
-Do not view 3D movies under the influence of alcohol.
-Do not view 3D movies if you are sleep deprived.

Click here to read the Samsung 3D TV warning in full.

If you do decide to enjoy the 3D TV Home experience be sure to take frequent viewing breaks. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Playing Nintendo Daily Saves Boy’s Eyesight

Check out this article about how playing Nintendo DS while patching helped reverse Amblyopia!

Playing Nintendo Daily Saves Boy’s Eyesight

Playing two hours of Mario Kart each day with his twin brother Jake while wearing an eye patch on his good eye forced his weaker eye to work harder. The treatment worked immediately, improving his vision 250% in the first week. Truly amazing!

Related Link:
The Nintendo DS can be helpful for Amblyopia

Get your own Nintendo DS Lite, DSi (with internet), or DSi XL (Larger & more vision friendly!)
Get the game that saved his vision

Warning Note: Nintendo has announced the release of a new 3D capable Nintendo DS handheld device called the Nintendo 3DS. As children with amblyopia struggle and are unable to see in 3D, the 3D version should be avoided for children with Amblyopia. The safety of children using a 3D device is also at question. Repeated exposure to 3D can damage the optic nerve and actually cause/worsen Amblyopia and Strabismus in children.

3D Dangers - 3D damage to eyes can cause Amblyopia!

With more and more movies being released in 3D each week at the theatres (the majority being new kids movies) as well as hot electronics like 3D televisions and 3D handheld gaming devices hitting the market, one has to question Safety.

Are we damaging our kids eyes by exposing them to too much 3D?

When 3D televisions were introduced the release did not come without warning. 3D viewing may be hazardous to your health. Not only do many people struggle with viewing 3D (like those with Amblyopia and other binocular vision issues), other common symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and even seizures. Viewing 3D is not recommended for several populations including those with medical conditions like epilepsy, heart conditions, pregnant women and young children. So if the 3D television is dangerous enough to come with a product warning .. what about the barrage of 3D movies for kids coming out week after week? And how about the new 3D Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system aimed at kids?

Must Read Articles:

From SlashDot:

3D Displays May Be Hazardous To Young Children
"Turns out 3D television can be inherently dangerous to developing children, and perhaps to adults as well. There's a malaise in children that can prevent full stereopsis (depth perception) from developing, called strabismus or lazy-eye. It is an abnormal alignment of the eyes in which the eyes do not focus on the same object — kind of like when you watch a 3D movie. As a result, depth perception is compromised. Acting on a hunch, the guys over at Audioholics contacted Mark Pesce, who worked with Sega on its VR Headset over 15 years ago — you know, the headset that never made it to market. As it turns out, back then Sega uncovered serious health risks involved with children consuming 3D and quickly buried the reports, and the project. Unfortunately, the same dangers exist in today's 3D, and the electronics, movie, and gaming industries seem to be ignoring the issue. If fully realized, 3D just might affect the vision of millions of children and, according to the latest research, many adults, across the country."

The article this references from Audioholics is a must read.

WARNING: 3D Video Hazardous to Your Health

Essentially - repeated 3D viewing - which is unlikely from occasionally taking a trip to the movie theatre for the latest 3D flick. But... is very very feasible with 3D TV in the home that is on day after day. Or, with a child who uses a handheld gaming system like a Nintendo 3DS daily for hour on end. We will have a population of children who are damaging their vision! Because of the nature of 3D viewing and how it "tricks" your eyes into seeing separately, repeated 3D could actually cause Amblyopia/Strabismus in kids, especially those under 7 years of age.

Related Links:
Amblyopia & 3D
3D Home Movie Experiment
Missing out on 3D Magic
3D movies and Amblyopia
Missing out on 3-D magic - 3D Amblyopia Avatar
Amblyopia Kids may struggle with trendy 3D toys & games
Amblyopia & Disney 3D Attractions
Avatar 3D Movie & Vision Issues
Fixing my Gaze Author - 3D Vision Workshop videos
Amblyopia, 3D Movies, and Ice Age 3
Health Risks and Dangers of the 3D TV

Monday, June 28, 2010

3D Movie Poll

It seems that just about every children's movie these days is being released in 3D. This has been a huge frustration for my family. My family, like many, enjoys family outings to the movies on weekends and we use it as a reward for good behavior. My 9 year old son is a big movie/animation buff. He draws and takes a big interest in Disney/Pixar especially. He has autism and is a very visual child and he has particularly enjoyed going to movies in 3D. But his little sister, age 5 - has Amblyopia. She struggles with 3D, and by the nature of her amblyopia - she cannot see 3D movies. This means, we are paying extra for the 3D experience but for her it is a frustration. She doesn't see 3D. She has wear cumbersome glasses over her glasses or the movie is "fuzzy" looking but she doesn't see the movie in 3D. We have tried to strike a happy medium by sometimes going to 3D movies as a special treat for my son but most often we opt to pay less and see the movie in 2D. It is not only cheaper but that way she doesn't struggle.

This past weekend we went to see Toy Story 3, which the kids both wanted to see very badly. My son really really wanted to see it in 3D while my daughter begged to not go to the 3D one. We planned to split up and see it in separate theatres with the boys (Daddy and son) going to 3D and girls (Mommy and daughter) going in 2D. Of course the movie times were staggered by an hour which was a mild inconvenience. As our good/bad luck would have it the theatre was having some issues with their 3D projector and a friend let us know that earlier in the day. We made the decision to all go as a family and see it in 2D. We loved it and didn't "need" 3D to enjoy family movie time together. Personally, I find it an expensive hassle and just wish the trend would be over with. Of course, every preview they showed for new kids movies coming out were for movies coming out in 3D! How frustrating for kids with Amblyopia and the parents that love them.

Am I the only one who just feels like saying "Enough already with the 3D!"?

Take my Reader Poll (you can check multiple answers)!

How do you feel about 3D Movies?

Riding the Amblyopia roller coaster, and the dreaded regression monster

In February 2010, my daughter had her 1 year appointment since being diagnosed with Amblyopia. At each appointment at 1 or 3 month intervals she had continued to receive good reports. Her weak eye got better each time and I could see the patching was working. Her doctor was very pleased and it was so exciting to see her be able to read even the small letters on the eye chart. It was the highest of highs when the doctor let us know that we could stop patching and take a break. He did say that we might be done forever but maybe we'd have to patch again down the road. Still, it was like we had climbed a mountain and made it to the top. My daughter had done it. She was beating Amblyopia! I always knew she could do it. I could taste victory and it was sweet. We scheduled a follow up and we packed the patches away in a gallon size zipperseal bag.

It was like living a "normal" life (what is normal?) without having to be sure to get in patching time each and every day and bank those hours.

Four months seemed to fly by very quickly what with school and extra activities. She graduated from preschool and shined at her dance recital. Before we knew it we were back at the eye doctor for her scheduled checkup.

Today, when she sat in the chair while the assistant did the pre-work for her visit. I could sense it immediately. When asked to occlude her eye, she cheated. The assistant switched to a larger eye cover she couldn't peak around and she immediately tried to turn her head, tilt it, she couldn't see. She made the letters larger and she sat there quietly. Finally she got to a large enough set of letters and my daughter announced "the letters are too blurry". She asked if maybe her glasses were dirty and we could clean them. Of course I wanted to believe that was the case, I knew it wasn't. We cleaned her glasses and she proceeded with the test.

She couldn't read the letters.

It was like diagnosis day all over again.

I sat there trying to be strong for my daughter and thought to myself. How could this have happened in 4 months? How did I not know she wasn't seeing again? What the heck!

From the looks of today we will be resuming patching and the likelihood of a new stronger prescription in her glasses is in her future. The doctor wants to do a full dilated exam to get the big picture and we'll come up with a plan. Since Belle had a tough time with the atropine drops and they caused her to get flushed and her heart to race, we are going to use Cyclogyl this time. He gave me a prescription so I can give them the night before and then the morning of her visit back which is scheduled for 2 weeks (we are going away next week otherwise it would be next week).

Glasses, Patches, Surgery? All or some of the above are just around the bend.

Here we go again.

What a rollercoaster ride this is.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friendship through Amblyopia

When I started the Amblyopia Kids site, one of the first parents whom I connected with was Maggie's mom. I was brand new to Amblyopia and she shared her daughter's story with me and was kind enough to write about it here on the website. To meet someone else, even if they lived on the opposite coast was so very reassuring to me. Hearing how Maggie had graduated from patching and her "journey" gave me so much hope. Even though Amblyopia is rather common, I didn't know anyone who had walked in my shoes with it and it made me feel about 500 times less alone to start to connect with other parents.

We found that our girls had a lot of similarities (in addition to looking quite a bit alike too!) and in sharing stories we'd always remark - how the 2 seemed like they'd get along quite well! Well, as it turned out.. They sure did! Maggie's family took some time out of their family vacation and we met up here at the very sunny hot Jersey shore. The kids went to the aquarium, the boardwalk, rode some rides, ate some lunch and topped the day off with a refreshing ice cream!

What a perfect day for these 2 beautiful and very special little girls, Belle & Maggie, who share a common bond - Amblyopia....But its not stoppin' these strong girls.. Nope, not one bit!!!

Thanks to Maggie's family - what a magical day it was.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Aiden's Summer Patching

When Aiden was three, his left eye started turning in, so we took him to the best pediatric ophthalmologist in town.  We started treating his lazy eye first with glasses since he is also severely farsighted.  Four years later, his eye is still very weak, so for the summer, he has to wear a patch over the good eye.  What we hope will happen is that in a month, after patching for 4-6 hours each day, his eye will be a little stronger and we won't have to start eye drop therapy or worse, surgery.

As can be expected, the novelty of Aiden's patch wore off after a few days and there was increasing frustration with the amount of time he had to wear it vs. the time that Aiden wanted to play video games.  I mentioned before that we are able to break up his treatment time, so we do three hours in the morning and three hours in the late afternoon.  It's good that Aiden has a sense of time and can read a clock, otherwise, I would be going insane.  If this was Simon (my four-year-old), I would have stabbed my eyes out.  On our recent beach trip, Simon must have asked, "Are we at the beach?" at least 500 times before we were even an hour into the four-and-a-half-hour drive.

We ordered a box of 50 adhesive patches from Krafty Eye Patches.  When Aiden's package came in the mail, we had a great time picking out stickers at Hobby Lobby.  We also picked out a journal for him to put his patches in when he's done wearing them.

No matter how he chooses to express himself, though, I want his summer to be fun. Wish us luck!  It's going to be a long, hot summer.

(Aiden's first journal entry written wearing the patch. It says "June 15, 2010. Daddy beat the game." The game being Final Fantasy XIII. )

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Racing Eyeballs

We took the kids to the Lakewood Blueclaws game on Friday night and in the middle of the 6th inning there was an eyeball race. The race is sponsored by Invision eyecare. Giant green, red, and blue eyeballs came out and raced around the bases. They keep score of it on the Blueclaws website, green won the night we went!

The kids Loved it.

I was laughing too hard to get a picture or video so I'm glad that I found a whole handful of them on youtube.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How far do you go to treat Amblyopia?

The most common treatments for Amblyopia include glasses, occlusion with patches or atropine drops, special contact lenses, and vision therapy.

But, if those weren't working would you SEW YOUR CHILD'S EYE SHUT?

I read on Dr. Maino's blog about the use of a silicon eyelid closure which is sutured into the eye in order to occlude the eye. Complications were present in half of the test cases but the study suggested this was a way to safely treat severe cases of amblyopia where occlusion by other methods had failed. Read more about it here

What are your thoughts on this?