How to use 3D in the classroom effectively

By Meris Stansbury, Online Editor
October 3rd, 2011

The AOA says there is no evidence that viewing or attempting to view 3D images will harm a child’s eyes.

Although some people report headaches or other problems from viewing 3D images, that’s not a reason for educators to shy away from using 3D in the classroom, optometrists say. In fact, the use of 3D images in school can help diagnose vision problems among students at an earlier age and can enhance teaching and learning.

That’s the conclusion of a new report on 3D use in K-12 schools, which says headaches that occur while or just after watching 3D video are one of the most common reasons why people opt not to experience 3D. This problem could indicate vision failure, optometrists say—something that 3D use in schools could help identify in children.

The report, titled “3D in the Classroom: See Well, Learn Well Public Health Report,” published by the American Optometric Association (AOA), describes a series of recommendations that can help schools use 3D technology in a way that enables students to “thrive and learn more efficiently in [many] subjects; better preparing them for life and advancing career challenges ahead.”

“3D approaches to learning can serve as a fulcrum for enhanced teaching and improved assurance of school readiness,” says AOA President Dori Carlson.

Carlson says using 3D video or images in the classroom can help in two ways: First, children often learn faster and retain more information in a 3D environment; and second, the ability to perceive depth in a 3D presentation turns out to be a highly sensitive assessment tool, able to assess a range of vision health indicators with much higher sensitivity than the standard eye chart that has been in use for the last 150 years.

“The good news is that for the estimated one in four children who have underlying issues with overall vision, 3D viewing can unmask previously undiagnosed deficiencies and help identify and even treat these problems,” says Carlson. “This is because 3D viewing requires that both eyes function in a coordinated manner as they converge, focus, and track the 3D image.”

According to the report, one of the most common indicators of underlying vision problems is an adverse reaction to watching 3D, such as headaches, eyestrain, dizziness, or nausea. Excessive fidgeting, playing with 3D glasses, or covering one eye also can indicate problems in the 3D presentation environment, the report notes.

While viewing 3D images can alert experts to children’s eye problems, the AOA says there is no evidence that viewing or attempting to view 3D images will harm a child’s eyes.