The American Optometric Association says children with "normally developing" vision will suffer no ill effects from using the Nintendo 3DS and that the device might actually be beneficial in the early detection of sight difficulties.
Nintendo has been warning pretty much from day one that the upcoming 3DS handheld, which uses some kind of dark magic to create three-dimensional images without the need for 3D glasses, may not be good for the still-developing eyes of very young children. The company has gone as far as to say that children under six won't be allowed to play with the device at the Nintendo World event taking place later this week. But the American Optometric Association yesterday gave the device a green light, saying it could actually be useful in diagnosing other "subtle disorders" that could cause bigger problems later in life.
Visual acuity isn't the only factor involved in seeing 3D images, the AOA said, noting that coordination of eye muscles and appropriate interaction with the brain are also major factors. When there's a breakdown in that process, eye fatigue and loss of 3D viewing can rapidly occur. But the same issues that lead to difficulty viewing 3D can also result in "loss of place when reading or copying, reducing 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," the AOA said in a statement. "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."
Nintendo's new 3DS handheld comes out in Japan on February 26 and is slated for rollout in the rest of the world in March.