Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Nintendo 3D DS: Binocular Screening for Tots?

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The newest non-news in the world of 3D technology is that Nintendo has issued a warning (in kanji) for children aged 6 and under not to play it’s new 3D DS gaming system, due to hit U.S. stores in March.

The Wall Street Journal states that Nintendo joins Samsung, Toshiba, Panasonic and Sony in following “the voluntary safety guidelines set out by the Japan-based 3D consortium, an industry group of major Japanese electronics companies. The guidelines say that young children’s eyesight are still developing, but do not specify the age at which they can start looking at 3-D images.” [1]

Nintendo recommends that parents use parental controls to turn off the 3D settings for children six and under, but they can’t be serious when they offer a game that includes a cute 3D puppy that will reach up to lick a child’s face: “Nintendogs uses the built-in camera and facial-recognition technology to enable puppies to react to your real-life movements, mimicking your head tilts and jumping up to lick you as you lean in.” [2]

Since all digital 3D technology is new, no research exists to back the claim that 3D viewing may harm binocular vision development. But common sense should dictate that any activities that discourage binocular vision development should be done in moderation, which includes reading in excess, close work like sewing and coloring, most school work, television viewing and video-gaming in general. What stimulates binocular vision development are activities done out of doors: playing Frisbee or softball, riding a bicycle, playing tag and playing on monkey bars, for example.

No one else has mentioned the big bonus I see to glasses-free 3D tech coming into the home: 3D vision screening. Children who exhibit stereoblindness or have trouble seeing 3D will be diagnosed earlier. “Mommy, I don’t see the puppy reach out” or “Everything looks blurry, daddy” might just get a parent to take their child to a developmental optometrist. Parents will become aware of binocular vision development problems much sooner.

Not seeing the 3D images clearly is only one of several problems that can occur when children or adults are not binocular vision ready. Carol L. Hong, OD, FCOVD states in her article “Is Your Child Ready to Experience the Magic of 3D at Home?”

Whether you are in a movie theater or watching TV on your new 3D screen, you should still keep an eye out for any signs of a headache, nausea, or dizziness during or shortly after 3D viewing. It is recommended that you test drive 3D TV at your local electronics store before purchasing so you can watch your child to see if he can see the special 3D effects.

One can only hope and pray that, with increased awareness of stereo blindness or lack of 3D readiness, parents will be directed to a local developmental optometrist (an optometrist with FCOVD after their name), who has the most training and expertise to help a struggling young child develop a strong binocular vision system with vision therapy.

Additional insights were posted today on the College of Optometrists for Vision Development Blog

Beginning with studies at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, evidence to date seems to pinpoint adult-like stereoscopic development by six years of age. Exercising caution until we know more about these effects seems prudent, and Nintendo is not the first company to do this.

Parents who are concerned about their child’s readiness to view 3D movies, television and games should read “Is Your Child Ready to Experience the Magic of 3D at Home?” by Carol L. Hong, OD, FCOVD


Written by Lynda Rimke

January 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

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