With the popularity of 3-D movies, it's natural to wonder what, if any, effect the technology has on your eyes. Is 3-D technology healthy for your or your children's eyes?

Although there are no long-term studies, Eye M.D.s say there is no reason to be concerned that 3-D movies, TV or video games will damage the eyes or visual system. Some people complain of headaches or motion sickness when viewing 3-D, which may indicate that the viewer has a problem with focusing or depth perception. Also, the techniques used to create the 3-D effect can confuse or overload the brain, causing some people discomfort even if they have normal vision. 

Taking a break from viewing usually relieves the discomfort. More on computer use and your eyes.

Children and 3-D Technology

Following the lead of Nintendo, several 3-D device companies have issued warnings about children's use of their new products. The original Nintendo warning, in late 2010, urged parents to prevent children under age 6 years from prolonged viewing of the device's digital images, in order to avoid possible damage to visual development. Should parents be concerned?

If a healthy child consistently develops headaches or tired eyes or cannot clearly see the images when using 3-D digital products, this may indicate a vision or eye disorder. If such problems occur, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that the child be given a comprehensive exam by an ophthalmologist (an Eye M.D.).

At this time there are no conclusive studies on the short- and/or long-term effects of 3-D digital products on eye and visual development, health, or function in children, nor are there persuasive, conclusive theories on how 3-D digital products could cause damage in children with healthy eyes. The development of normal 3-D vision in children is stimulated as they use their eyes in day-to-day social and natural environments, and this development is largely complete by age three years.

However, children who have eye conditions such as amblyopia (an imbalance in visual strength between the two eyes), strabismus (misaligned eyes), or other conditions that persistently inhibit focusing, depth perception or normal 3-D vision, would have difficulty seeing digital 3-D images. That does not mean that vision disorders can be caused by 3-D digital products. However, children (or adults) who have these vision disorders may be more likely to experience headaches and/or eye fatigue when viewing 3-D digital images.

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