News Article

3DS May Be Beneficial to Young Players' Eyes, Actually

Posted by James Newton

Could help with diagnoses

Nintendo's no doubt covering itself with its recommendation that kids under 6 don't play 3DS, but the American Optometric Association has issued a press release stating the machine could actually have benefits.

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.

Of course, the association still advises moderation and correct supervision of children while using the machine in 3D mode, but it's still encouraging to hear that the 3D effect isn't going to blow kids' eyes up as soon as they look at it.

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

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.

The AOA and the American Public Health Association (APHA) both encourage a regular comprehensive eye examination schedule so that all children have eye exams performed at approximately age 6-12 months, 2-3 years, and by 5 years of age(1). Although recommended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that less than 15% of all preschool children receive a comprehensive eye exam(2). If children experience the "3Ds of 3D viewing" — discomfort, dizziness, or lack of depth — it is crucial to have a comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry.


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User Comments (30)



sykotek said:

Bravo, very intelligent AOA, planting the seeds now for future business. I predict in 8-10 years, a steady increase in prescription lenses and corrective eye surgeries for the younger generations.



Kirk said:

Now, if Nintendo is really smart, they would release some kind of Eye/Vision Test game that checks to see how well people can perceive the 3D effect, and the effects it has on them etc, and if there are any potential vision issues they might want to deal with.

Could be a money spinner.



bboy2970 said:

Exactly. I hate that some people blow this out of proportion like the device is gonna fail because children under 6 absolutely, definitely, under no circumstances can play the 3DS. Its just Nintendo covering themselves legally for that ONE kid that's gonna get some problem and have it possibly related to the 3DS. Glad this is being watered down a bit.



erv said:

After brain training we could very well get eye training



Golgo said:

There's already been a DS sight training 'game'. It was unbelievably awful, as you can imagine.



NintyMan said:

Well, what do you know? We worry about it being eye damaging and now we hear it exposes eye problems for treatment! This is quite the big rebuff.



timp29 said:

I can see the advertising campaign now... "If not for fun, play it for your health."



Token_Girl said:

It can help people detect the problems it possibly causes?

It's nice to see a more moderated statement about this. I'm sure normal play is probably fine. I completely understand why Nintendo needs to cover there butt. There are people in this country who vehemently believe vaccines cause autism despite a wealth of solid research that says otherwise. Who knows what damage a crazy parent with a great lawyer could do.

That being said, your best bet should probably be good old-fashioned moderation. For under-sixes there's no need for games to be any more than rainy day/long car trip activities.



komicturtle said:


Yeah, because I'm sure we all know those parents who have something against the gaming industry and when something happens to their child they would immediately blame the video games without analyzing the situation to come to a logical conclusion. Wouldn't be surprised if one of them coo-coos are tracking the 3DS and coming up with ideas to get money out of Nintendo- or something crazy like that. It's like buying a 3DS for their 5 year-old, telling them to use the 3D "Cause I spent good money on that! Use it!" and then the child has a 'problem' that Nintendo 'formally' warned (and the Opitics people specifically said in moderation) and there you go- unintelligent parent sues the company.

I'm sure everyone knows that though. That 'one' person.



Ren said:

Moderation, eh? Ha! cause we all know how easy it is to save our gaming for a rainy day when theres a new Zelda game with 5 unfinished castles waiting.



LittleIrves said:

Wow, looks like Reggie slipped some money in AOA's pockets. Such a strange back-and-forth of press releases. Makes you wonder about all the odd paperwork that got sent out before the internet allowed us to read all of this stuff...



Mowzle2 said:

I'm with Token Girl on this one - moderation in all things. Lets keep the "Elf and Safety" recommendations in perspective



LztheQuack said:

Meh, I already have glasses and crappy vision so I have nothing to worry about...right?



MeloMan said:

So I guess in all this 3DS eyes news, we basically have a 50-50 chance of either correcting or worsening our eyesight... gaming has never been more challenging than the Nintendo 3DS!



Capt_N said:

Don't know how this will play out, for someone like me, where playing video games helps my vision, through tracking on-screen things. I also agree w/ sykotek. It's just something about this doesn't seem right. 1st, it's an evil eye-damaging machine. Then, it's helpful. It feels like there seem to be some trumping-up here for one of the 2 sides of whether the 3DS will be bad for eyes, or not. Something about this "recommendation" just seems artificial, & w/ a motive behind it. However, this does not seem out of left field, as this very well could be straight-as-an-arrow legit.

Again, we'll all just have to wait, & see. I'll wait until both mass reports, & optometrists deem the 3DS unhealthy for eyes, as single reports are bound to pop up.



StarDust4Ever said:

Nintendo only produced this warning to avoid potential lawsuits. If parents gave their preschooler a 3DS, then months later discover that their child has lazy eye or some other problem, they would do what any hysterical parent would do and blame it on the 3DS device. It has been done many times in the past. For instance the unsubstantiated claims that certain vaccines caused autism in children have congested the legal system, costing the Federal Government billions in taxpayer dollars:

An urban legend (Coke & Pop Rocks explode kids stomachs) or over-zealous lawsuit (McDonalds hot coffee accident) linking the 3DS to eye disorders in children could ruin a company like Nintendo.



LuWiiGi said:

This article reminded me I have to go to the opticians tomorrow...I shall tell him about this.



Token_Girl said:


You don't have to practice any moderation if you don't want to. It's really only recommended for parents of 6 year olds or younger. (Though I probably won't be able to handle 3D for more than 45 min at a time anyways - it gives me headaches).



Slapshot said:

This isn't really a good thing at all, the 3DS hurts the childs eyes (not creating the problem, but still hurts the eyes proving the problem) and the parents take the child to the doctor to get checked and get diagnosed with a vision problem.

Some parents then are going to blame the 3DS for the problem and start suing Nintendo for damages. I think we are going to see many lawsuits against Nintendo with 3DS, and could potentially be a real problem. This is children, and parents are extremely protective of there children.



Phobos said:

"'s still encouraging to hear that the 3D effect isn't going to blow kids' eyes up as soon as they look at it."

The image that springs up with those very words...

@slapshot82 - That's rather a bit dumb on the parents' part, I mean, Nintendo has advised certain playing times... If that actually happens, like lawsuits and stuff, then... well, I really have no comment.

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