Nintendo 3DS could ID vision issues

2011-03-22 10:32
New York - US eye specialists are welcoming the Nintendo 3DS game device, dismissing the manufacturer's warnings that its 3D screen shouldn't be used by children 6 or younger because it may harm their immature vision.

On the contrary, the optometrists say, it's a good idea to get your kids to try the 3D screen, especially if they're younger than 6. It won't do any harm, they say, and it could help catch vision disorders that have to be caught early to be fixed.

"The 3DS could be a godsend for identifying kids under 6 who need vision therapy," said Dr Michael Duenas, associate director for health sciences and policy for the American Optometric Association.

The new handheld game device is already available in Japan and goes on sale in the US on March 27 for $250. It has two screens like the DS machines it is designed to replace.

The top screen can show 3D images, without the need for special glasses, though only new games will be in 3D. A pair of cameras on the 3DS can be used to take 3D pictures.

Subtle problems

If your child doesn't see the 3D effect on the 3DS, that's a sign that he or she may have a vision disorder such as amblyopia, or "lazy eye", or more subtle problems that can cause problems with reading, Duenas said. Kids who experience dizziness or discomfort should also be checked, he said.

Today's 3D viewing systems send different images to the right and left eyes, a technique that creates an illusion of depth. But a lot of the cues we use to perceive depth in our environment are missing. That confuses the eyes and accounts for the eyestrain and headaches many people experience watching 3D movies.

Because of that, optometrists say, these systems can help isolate problems that have to do with the way the eyes move, problems that aren't caught by eye charts.

These problems are much easier to fix if caught before age 6, when the visual system in our brains is more or less done developing.

Only 15% of preschool children get a comprehensive eye exam that could catch these subtle problems, according to the American Optometric Association, the professional group for optometrists. More than half of all juvenile delinquents have undiagnosed and untreated vision problems, according to studies.

Going to see a 3D movie or trying a 3D TV can also help screen for problems, but optometrists expect the 3DS to be in front of kids' eyes more.

"This has presented my profession, optometry, a wonderful opportunity," said Dr Joe Ellis, the president of the optometrists' association.

Depth perception

However, optometrists aren't quite seeing eye to eye on this issue with another group of eye specialists: The ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors. (Optometrists are doctors of optometry but not medical doctors.)

Dr David Hunter, a paediatric ophthalmologist affiliated with the Children's Hospital in Boston and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said the idea that off-the-shelf 3D games or movies could help screen for vision problems such as amblyopia is "a little perplexing".

Kids with amblyopia don't have much depth perception in real life, he said, so if they don't see depth in a 3D screen, they might not say anything because that wouldn't be much different from what they see around them.

It's not impossible that it could help, but it's "all sort of exploration and speculation", said Hunter, who has started a company that's developing a device for childhood screening of vision disorders.

Nintendo's warning, issued in December, was vaguely worded. It said specialists believe "there is a possibility that 3D images which send different images to the left and right eye could affect the development of vision in small children".

The Japanese company didn't back the warning up with scientific evidence, so Duenas sees it as being motivated by liability concerns - much like coffee mugs carry warnings that beverages could be hot - rather than a true danger.

Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, says the company is "aware of all the work that has been done in the field" and issued the warning based on that work. The warning, he said, is based on research that up until age 6, a child's eye - specifically the connection between the eye and the brain - is still developing.

Lasting damage

Nintendo, he said, wants to be "conservative and consistent", erring on the side of safety.

Optometrists haven't seen any sign that 3D screens can cause lasting damage, but they also acknowledge that not much is known about how 3D viewing affects us. Hunter, the ophthalmologist, agreed.

The optometrists' association announced this week that it has formed an alliance with the 3DAtHome Consortium, a group of TV manufacturers and Hollywood studios promoting the technology. The idea is that the two groups will share information about the effects of 3D.

In the future, Duenas said, 3D movies might be preceded by public service announcements recommending vision examinations for those who have problems perceiving the 3D effect.

Dr Jim Sheedy, director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University in Forest Grove, said parents should limit kids' use of the 3DS just as they limit computer or game console use.

"Is there a limit on how much a child should be viewing 3D? Yeah. How much is it? I don't know. Let's use some sound judgment," he said.

He noted that the No 1 health issue associated with console and computer gaming is obesity, rather than eye problems.

"Kids should be out running around," he said.

- AP
Read more on:    nintendo  |  technology
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

“To infinity and beyond”….. As the Sun and the Moon move into Sagittarius you are able to let go of the emotional intensity of the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.