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Is Your Child Ready for 3-D Movies?

Parents planning on taking their children to see one of the season's popular 3-D films first need to know how to determine if the kids can see 3-D. Then they need to prepare them for what will happen during a 3-D movie, if they have never seen one before.

Dr. Brad Habermehl, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, says many children may miss out on all the excitement if they can't see 3-D. "Unfortunately, most parents have no idea how their children see their world, and children don't complain if they can't see 3-D."

Consider the signs. Your child may not be able to see 3-D if he or she:

is clumsy Ė spills milk when pouring, trips while walking, bumps into things;

is scared of escalators, going down stairs, climbing play structures, or avoids them altogether;

has difficulty hitting or catching a ball.

If your child has been diagnosed with lazy eye (amblyopia) or an eye turn (strabismus), he will not be able to see the full 3-D effects. Most 3-D movies provide visual clues, such as objects appearing smaller the farther away they are, which anyone can see whether using both eyes or just one. However, there are special effects that do require using both eyes at the same time. If your child doesn't have 3-D vision, he won't be able to see these special 3-D effects.

If your child can see 3-D, it's still best when a child has never seen a 3-D movie before to prepare him beforehand for what he will see. Explain to your child how with most movies, the picture stays on the movie screen. But in 3-D movies, the picture will look as if it is filling the whole theater, and viewers may feel like they can reach out and touch the characters. Also, be sure to tell your child ahead of time that if he doesn't like what he sees or he feels uncomfortable, he can close his eyes until he feels comfortable opening them again.

During the 3-D movie, keep an eye on your child, watching for any signs of a headache, nausea, or dizziness during or shortly afterwards. In addition, watch to see how your child responds to the special effects to see if he responds the same way the other kids do. If not, it's possible that he isn't seeing the special effects. These are signs that your child may have a vision problem, and you should schedule an eye exam to have it fully checked.

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