3D movies don't work for me

I just got back from seeing the 3D showing of Avatar. I wore those realD glasses, but I didn’t notice any 3D effects. It just looked like a regular 2D movie to me. Nothing popped out at all. A similar thing happened when I saw the 3D Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas. I could watch the movie, but nothing appeared 3D.

I remember those blue and red glasses working for me when I was a kid. I remember being able to enjoy Captain Eo and 3D comic books. I also got those stereoscopic tests at the eye doctor a long time ago, and everything appeared normal.

Are my eyes busted? I wear prescription glasses for pretty severe nearsightedness and astigmatism, so I had to wear the realD frames over them. I tried without my glasses, but that didn’t help. I also tried changing seats and varying my perspective. My parents could see the 3D just fine. I swapped glasses with them to see if mine were defective.

Why can’t I see 3D movies?

I’m not sure we have enough information. For example, did you try watching the movie without the glasses. Did it look similar to when you had the glasses on? Did you try closing one eye or the other to see which seemed more similar to the experience you had?

If I had to guess, I’d say that your severe nearsightedness and astigmatism have caused you to adapt a different method of perceiving 3D. If you were to try the anaglyphic (red/blue) glasses, or take the stereoscopic tests today, you might not perceive 3D nearly as well. Here’s a simple online test you can try.

When removing the 3D glasses, I could see double images where the film had applied the effects. Without the 3D glasses, the movie looked blurry. With the glasses, they looked like a normal 2D movie. Closing one eye didn’t seem to make a difference.

Interesting. I tried the online test. I see two thumbs but only one eye. Well, poop. Guess my eyes are busted. I’ll bring it up with my optomitrist next time I see him. Is this something fixable?

Sometimes I’ll see double, like my eyes briefly unfocus. It happens rarely enough where it hasn’t been a problem, so I haven’t brought it up. Could that have something to do with it?

No cite handy (it’s been way too long since grad school), but different people just happen to have differing levels of ability to perceive 3D images. It’s one of those things that you need to screen for when recruiting subjects for research projects on visual perception, for example.

I have seen 3-D movies and my vison is fine, (now I need reading glasses but back then I didn’t), and I always had issues seeing 3-D as well.

I would see it sometimes, but other times I couldn’t get most of the movie

Yeh, if that test isn’t working for you, go see an opthamologist right away (skip the optometrist if you can). It seems there’s something screwy going on with your eye/brain perception. How’s your depth perception in everyday life? IANAOpthamologist, but whether or not it’s fixable depends on your condition. They might be able to correct it by covering one eye, until the problem eye learns to “see” at the same strength as the good one (if in fact that’s the issue).

So, to be clear, if you close the right eye, you can see fine out of the left and vice versa? If this is the case, it sounds like your eyes, themselves, are fine, it’s just the way your brain is fusing the two incoming fields of vision to make one stereoscopic image.* I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re seeing the world in a rather 2-D aspect, compared to normal vision. You might have some depth perception, but it might be pretty weak.**

*Just a WAG.

** Another WAG.

As I pointed out in this thread (there have been a lot of 3D vision threads lately!), real life 3D vision does not rely entirely, perhaps not even mainly, on binocular disparity. In particular, you get a LOT of depth information from motion parallax every time you move your head a little bit. This means that someone whose binocular disparity system is messed up for some reason, even a one eyed person, can still see in depth reasonably well in the real world. It is not perfect, but you might well be getting by well enough that you do not notice a problem. The 3D movie effect, by contrast, relies entirely on binocular disparity, and cannot reproduce the effects of self-motion parallax.* This means, that the 3D effect will never look quite right to anyone, and that someone whose binocular disparity mechanisms are defective will not see it at all.

*But see the cool demonstration posted in the above mentioned thread by garygnu of how a Wii controller can be used to produce a 3D effect from motion parallax only, without binocular disparity being involved at all. Unfortunately, it would be impossible to implement in movies, because each person would need their own display, but could be great for computer games.

Every eye test I’ve ever taken has included a depth test. Do you pass these tests?

Hmm. I’d’ve thought it would come from the parallax of moving your eyes, since they move so dadgommed much.

It could. You could be getting your visual information primarily from one eye, and the double vision is when one eye isn’t getting filtered out. If one eye is getting filtered out, that would explain the lack of stereoscopic vision.

IANAD, but, if it’s mechanical (like maybe your eyes don’t align properly), it can probably be fixed. Or a doctor could at least provide you with corrective lenses. The other options I can think of are not nearly as correctable. But maybe vision therapy could help that, too.

Well, the eyes do move a heck of a lot, yes, but since eye movements as such consist of the eyeballs swiveling in their sockets, rather than changing position relative to surrounding objects, I don’t think they are capable of producing significant parallax effects by themselves. Quite tiny head movements produce noticeable parallax, however.

Fine, I think. I have an underlying medical condition which leaves me confined to a wheelchair, so I’m not going to be doing anything in my every day life which acutely tests depth perception like catching a ball. But it’s not like I’m bumping into things or having trouble differentiating distances. Besides 3D movies, I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary other than nearsightedness.

I did get those tests when I was a kid, but haven’t had them since.

Certainly sounds like you have a dominant eye condition of some sort. It doesn’t sound like it affects your daily life. You’d have to get a waiver to get a pilot’s license but wouldn’t even need that if you got a sport pilot’s license.

I have Amblyopia (hence my user name) and I have limited depth perception. 3D movies do not work for me.

When I was young, my doctor discovered my condition, but apparently, it wasn’t soon enough. Eye-patch training, like cmyk mentioned is effective at retraining the brain to recognize the non-dominant eye, however it becomes less effective at older ages. It did not work for me. I grew up thinking I only had one functioning eye, and zero stereoscopic vision. My left eye sees 20/20, but the right eye is around 20/400. There appears to be a new form of therapy that works for folks in their 20s and 30s, but I haven’t seriously considered it, because by this point in my life, I’m comfortable with my vision. (cite and info about amblyopia)

My depth perception is a weakness for me, but I have more then I used to think. While I can not focus on anything with my right eye, my peripheral vision is fine, and sufficient to provide the stereoscopic information. As an experiment, I once tried to drive with my bad eye closed. My impaired vision was frighteningly inadequate I realized that my condition was barely a handicap at all, and that I had far more depth perception then I previously thought.

So, the point to my story is just anecdotal support to what njtt said, that stereoscopic vision is not solely responsible for depth perception, but it is a big part of it. The 3D illusion in movies relies on having two functioning eyeballs, and that leaves some of us in the dark on that experience. I also missed out on the magic eye poster fad of the late 90’s.

Weird. I had the same experience as you with the test (two thumbs, one eye) but I just got back from the Avatar movie and saw the 3D just fine…

I cannot see 3D either.

It sounds like you have an issue with suppression of visual input at certain distances but not others, judging by how you did on the eye/finger test. Vision therapy, as BigT mentioned, can train that, and in fact it has a relatively high success rate compared to, say, what Amblydoper has. Amblyopia is much more difficult to improve, functionally, with eye exercises.

Sorry to nitpick, but this is actually the opposite of what I’d advise (though of course I’m biased!) Most practitioners of vision therapy are optometrists (as well as occupational therapists), not ophthalmologists. Both type of doctors, however, will be able to give the simple screening tests to determine whether he can see stereoscopic stimuli, although the test would really only be valid if it’s a similar type of stimulus to that of 3D movies – liquid crystal shutter goggles or polarized goggles, with a wide-field stimulus, shown at a far distance. Remember that most stereo screening tests, including the ones used in clinical practice, are small central stimuli administered at a distance of 40 cm or so – which may or may not be comparable to the 3d movie experience shown here. It’s possible to be able to converge at a near distance but have trouble with ocular alignment at a far distance and vice versa.

– Cromulent, 3rd year optometry student

Since binocular depth perception depends on parallax, which diminishes with distance, I’d imagine that glasses for extreme nearsightedness would also diminish parallax since you are magnifying everything, effectively seeing everything as though it were really far away but blown up.

Years ago, I finally got insurance and decided to get my eyes looked at. I’ve known all along that I’ve got amblyopia (lazy eye), but I keep it under such tight control that nobody really notices.

Well, the opthalmo… aptha… eye doctor examined my eyes for a minute or so and said, “Let me guess- you can’t play basketball at all, can you?”

Why no, this White Man Can’t, in fact, Jump. I’m notoriously bad at shooting baskets. One time, while going up for a lay-up, I nearly broke my damn fool leg on the bleachers *behind *the basket.

It turns out that I have no depth perception. Zero, zip, nada.

However, I can catch a ball… but it turns out it’s because I perceive depth the same way lizards do- I move my head side-to-side as the ball comes towards me, to figure out where it is in 3-space.

So, anyway- 3D movies don’t do a damn thing for me. They’re just an expensive route to eyestrain-induced headaches.

For me, the 3D seemed to vary. I have astigmatism and wore the 3D glasses over my own. When I took them to see how the film looked without them, I didn’t notice any difference. Do I have bad depth perception? Well, I don’t run into walls or chairs, I can tell distance. However, when I did an eye exam for possible admission to West Point, the doctor used a device with circles and asked which ones were in front and which ones were in back. I failed miserably. Yet, he said he failed it as well. I didn’t see any glasses, maybe he was wearing contacts.

I tried BigT’s test. I don’t if I did it correctly, I looked at the eye at arm’s length. When I did the thumb part, I saw each half of the eye, but they were of different sizes , sort of like this c|D. With the | being my thumb.

Are you able to see 3D Stereograms?

I remember first being introduced to the concept when I was about 8-years-old. It took me a while to see it the first time (20 min+). But, after that, I was able to get them immediately, even after 20+ years of not seeing one. Maybe it’s something you have to train your eyes and brain to see, perhaps a form of muscle memory?

It could be convergence or eye dominance according to this article.