3D Movies as Vision Therapy

Some time ago, I came across an article from the BBC about a man named Bruce Bridgeman who went to see the movie “Hugo” in 3D. It was February 2012 and he thought it would be a waste of money because he was essentially stereoblind (unable to see in 3D, ie not able to perceive depth) since birth. The 67-year-old neuroscientist was surprised to find that he could see the characters leaping from the screen and was able to appreciate a whole new dimension of sight. To his surprise, the effects lasted after he left the theatre, and he continued to see in 3D. In his words “Riding to work on my bike, I look into a forest beside the road and see a riot of depth, every tree standing out from all the others.” I tried to track him down for an interview, and found only an obituary indicating he died on July 10, 2016 in a tragic accident in Taiwan. The entire BBC article about his 3D movie experience is available here: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20120719-awoken-from-a-2d-world.

I’m not remembering now whether I knew of his experience before I went to my first 3D movie, but I blogged about that initial experience where I saw a little depth in the movie, Life of Pi on May 9, 2013. I indicated in that blog that the decision was spurred by the experience of Lynda Rimke https://leavingflatland.wordpress.com/category/3d-movies-and-gaming/. She had seen some depth while using prism glasses and enjoyed Life of Pi very much. She also had blogged about Bruce Bridgeman’s experience and that may also be where I learned of him.

Although I experienced some 3D effects when watching Life of Pi, I didn’t try viewing 3D movies again until I had achieved some stereopsis. I have made it a point to consult the website CinemaBlend: To 3D or not to 3D, where they rate the movies for their 3D effects. Some of the movies that were available I chose not to see because the 3D effects were not considered to be very good. I figured it wouldn’t be a good test of my own 3D ability if there wasn’t much of anything to see.

Following my eye surgery, I started using 3D movies at the discount theatre as an excuse to have a movie date with my daughter who also completed her vision therapy. It became our vision therapy refresher and we both noticed enhanced 3D effects in the real world after viewing a movie in 3D. I remember in particular feeling amazed at how beautifully the trees defined the road, almost like a tunnel as I drove home, and alternately being a little anxious when the snow came at my windshield during a snowstorm. It had never had that depth and direction before.

Now, during the covid-19 pandemic, it’s become nearly impossible to see a 3D movie at the theatre. Interestingly enough, a few months ago (before covid hit), I decided to buy a used 3D TV for $150. It’s been an excellent investment, even though I currently only have 2 pairs of glasses (and they’re fairly pricey). I have begun investing in some of the best 3D movies and can now engage in my 3D movie vision therapy in the comfort of my own home!

There doesn’t seem to be much data about 3D movies as vision therapy. I’d love some feedback on whether you or someone you know has used 3D movies as vision therapy and what the results have been.