In response to a health warning previously issued by Nintendo of Japan about possible eye damage resulting from longtime use of the 3D feature or prolonged use by small children, the American Optometric Association suggests that there’s nothing really to be concerned about. In fact, they say, exposure to 3D images may actually help identify vision disorders that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

New Hand-Held 3D Gaming Devices May Help Uncover Undiagnosed Vision Problems

American Optometric Association Advises Moderation in Use, No Evidence Yet of Harmful Effects

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/—The American Optometric Association (AOA), representing America’s family eye doctors (optometrists), says 3D in movies, TV and even 3D on Nintendo’s 3DS isn’t necessarily bad for adults or children. In fact, optometrists, professional health care providers committed to children’s vision and eye health, say 3D viewing may actually help uncover subtle disorders that, left uncorrected, often result in learning difficulties.

In this context, it is not enough to have 20/20 visual acuity. Eye muscles must be coordinated well enough to experience single, clear and comfortable vision by maintaining alignment of both eyes. The brain must also match appropriate accommodative or focusing power with where the eyes are aimed. Often, subtle problems with these vision skills can lead to rapid fatigue of the eyes and loss of 3D viewing, but also loss of place when reading or copying, reduced reading comprehension, poor grades and increased frustration at school. Difficulties with appreciating 3D in movies, TV and Nintendo’s 3DS, or discomfort when engaging in these activities may be an important sign of undetected vision disorders. Parents should be aware that current vision screening technologies employed in schools and pediatricians’ offices cannot substitute for comprehensive eye exams that detect and treat these problems.

Nintendo has issued a warning that children under 6 should not use the 3DS in 3D mode. While studies on the effects of prolonged 3D viewing on young children remain to be done, leaning toward the side of caution is advisable in guiding children to use these devices in moderation. Since vision develops from birth, it is crucial to uncover the type of vision disorders that may interfere with Nintendo 3D viewing at an early age. Although success can be attained in treating conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (eye turn) beyond age 6, the outcome is always better when children are treated as soon as signs of these problems are detected. Accordingly, children younger than 6 can use the 3DS in 3D mode if their visual system is developing normally.

Note that while the AOA still advises moderation for children, monitoring a child’s ability to view and endurance while viewing these type of images can help us identify problems with eye focus and our ability to reconcile the images we view through each eye individually into a single, clear image. So for those of you who worried that such a health warning might harm 3DS sales, you can rest assured that there’s a strong case in favor of 3D in gaming.

Source: PR Newswire

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