Professor of ophthalmology sees in greater depth after watching Martin Scorsese's Hugo in 3D

A university professor who has struggled with depth perception since birth says his vision has dramatically improved after watching 3D movies.

Bruce Bridgeman, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, lived with poor depth perception until he watched the Martin Scorsese 3D film Hugo, in February 2012. Suddenly he was able to see with an improved sense of depth, and the phenomenon continued when he left the cinema. "Suddenly, things began to jump out at me," Bridgeman told CNN, adding that he felt "euphoric". He said he previously "saw the world as kind of, in theory, three-dimensional, but the experience is more flat," Adding: "I didn't realise that until I began to see in proper stereo."

Bridgeman's academic studies, which centre on the visual system, have given him the opportunity to try and establish exactly why watching Hugo in 3D helped his sight. It appears watching the film trained his eyes, which do not naturally face the same direction at the same time, to focus properly on the stereo image in front of him. "It was sort of serendipitous that I had spent my lifetime studying vision, and then this experience happened, so I could talk about it and maybe understand it in ways that most people wouldn't be able to," he said.

Bridgeman's stereoscopic vision is by no means perfect in the wake of his 3D epiphany. Nevertheless, the development suggests some people who have lost depth perception can recover it in certain circumstances, contrary to what was once thought. CNN quotes Paul Harris, an associate professor at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, who states: "Certainly immersion in a 3D movie could, if somebody had a marginal vision system, could absolutely improve it," though he adds: "I wouldn't prescribe (a movie)."

© Guardian News and Media 2013

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