Eye exams at the movies

Eye exams at the movies

When Floyd Mizener, O.D., describes the 3-D movie experience, it's not about popcorn, endless trailers and watching things jump out on the big screen. He sees a trip to the cinema as a useful way to get an extra eye exam.

"It's the foundation of our profession to know that we use two eyes and use them together as a team."

Dr. Mizener's goal has been to raise awareness about the health benefits of stereoscopic 3-D viewing. Assisted by the AOA, the Illinois Optometric Association and other groups, Dr. Mizener has collaborated with an Illinois-based movie theater chain to alert the public that difficulties in viewing a 3-D film may indicate a potential vision problem. A comprehensive eye exam can lead to needed treatment.

Recently, he received the "Eye Care Professional of the Year" Award from the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society, an organization that was founded by leading content creators in Hollywood such as Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and DreamWorks Animation.

As an OD consultant, the 88-year-old continues to serve the public and deliver optometric vision education in Illinois and the nation. He is a past president of the Illinois Optometric Association and was the founder of Naper Grove Vision Care, today a five-doctor practice in the greater Chicago area.

In this excerpt from an interview in the June 2014 edition of AOA Focus, Dr. Mizener explains why everyone should strive to have the best eyesight they can.

Why did you become involved in this campaign?
We're in the vision specialty field. It's the foundation of our profession to know that we use two eyes and use them together as a team—a marriage—where both images are exposed. With our muscles and control of our brain, we fuse them together from two different angles and end up seeing depth perception known as stereopsis binocular vision [a 3-D skill].

We estimate that 28 percent of all people [are binocular vision impaired]. When they go to a 3-D movie, that's it. They have no way of sneaking away from it. Because the moment they have any little divergence between the two eyes working together, [the problem] identifies itself immediately.

How are you raising awareness about the benefits of stereoscopic 3-D vision?
Medicine has never leaped into the area of functional vision. School screenings are mostly about acuity: Have you got 20/20 in this eye or that eye? And they pass along these kids who don't know they have a problem until it shows up in their work.

We created this [awareness campaign] for the public and for the movie theater industry. It makes people realize they need to care about their vision even though they don't think they have a problem.

I got in touch with Willis Johnson [founder and president] of the Classic Cinemas. He owns 13 theaters in 13 cities with 115 screens and 500 employees. I, along with Dr. Ingryd Lorenzana, helped him design pamphlets as well as posters so [moviegoers] could see them in the lobby of his theaters.

What advice can you offer fellow ODs in this area?
I tell optometrists to be very alert and do a total examination. Many ODs are not doing the total [binocular vision] test. 

Photograph by Callie Lipkin

July 14, 2014

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