boy wearing 3-D glassesIf you think the latest 3-Dimensional technologies may be ruining your kids’ eyes, you can put those thoughts to rest. On the contrary, the way your child sees 3-D images in games, movies, and TV may alert you to some potential eye problems.

Nintendo recently issued a warning about its new 3-D handheld game device, urging parents to prevent children under age 6 from prolonged viewing of the device’s digital images. Nintendo, and other 3-D game device companies, said the warnings were issued to avoid possible damage to visual development.

However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says the gaming devices are not causing problems. Based on accepted medical knowledge and current research, the AAO says:

“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 AAO notes that development of normal 3-D vision is stimulated as children use their eyes in day-to-day social and natural environments, and this development is largely complete by the time a child is 3.

Watch for Headaches

While the 3-D game devices may not cause vision disorders, the AAO says, children who have certain eye conditions would have difficulty actually seeing the 3-D images, or may be more likely to experience headaches and/or eye fatigue when viewing them. The conditions include asamblyopia (an imbalance in visual strength between the two eyes), strabismus (misaligned eyes), or other problems that inhibit focusing, depth perception, or normal 3-D vision. The American Optometric Association (AOA) says the same is true for those who watch 3-D TV or movies.

According to the AOA, three to nine million people have problems with binocular vision, which is the ability to align both eyes on an object and combine the visual images from each eye into a single, in-depth perception. Eye fatigue is caused when 3-D technology forces the eyes to focus simultaneously on images that are near and far away.

Symptoms indicating a potential problem with the ability to see 3-D images vary. According to results of the AOA’s American Eye-Q® survey, most people who suffer from 3-D vision complications experience headaches (13 percent), blurred vision (12 percent), and dizziness (11 percent).

“Watching 3-D programming can unmask issues such as lazy eye, convergence insufficiency, poor focusing skills, and other visual problems consumers might not have previously known existed,” said Dr. Dominick Maino, a professor of pediatrics/binocular vision at the Illinois Eye Institute.

So, in other words, if your 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, have your child’s eyes checked with a comprehensive eye/vision examination.