The New York Times points out that doctors are confused by Nintendo’s strong warnings related to the upcoming 3DS handheld. Pediatric ophthalmologists tell the paper that the Nintendo announcement was a surprise to them because "it seems to have little basis in science." Here is more from a doctor:
"The fact you’d watch 3-D in a theater or a video game should have zero deleterious impact whatsoever," said Dr. Lawrence Tychsen, a professor of pediatrics and ophthalmology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Tychsen has tested baby Rhesus monkeys using 3-D glasses. The research put glasses on these monkeys and had them watch a screen throughout the day for three months. The research was intended to help Tychsen understand how vision develops. His research showed that the vision of these monkeys developed no differently than for those not wearing the devices. Monkeys, he said, offer a "terrific approximation of what happens with human eye development."
"Nintendo’s position is children 6 and under should not use the 3-D feature of Nintendo 3DS, and parents should use the Parental Controls feature to restrict access to the 3-D mode," Charlie Scibetta, Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Nintendo of America said.
Whether 3-D imaging technology hurts eye development has implications well beyond Nintendo. Increasingly, media companies and hardware makers – like the developers of computer chips – are emphasizing 3-D as the next wave in entertainment, pushing it into computers, televisions and theaters.
Another doctor concurs with Tychsen; Dr. David Hunter, professor of ophthalmology at Harvard University and ophthalmologist-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, said that, so far, there is little evidence that 3-D imagery hurts eye development. He claims that three-dimensional projections approximate the way the human eyes construct 3-D images.
Worst case scenario, according to Hunter, is that "fatigue from the brain trying to process a ton of information" might be possible.
Screen time can come at a cost, says David Granet, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of California at San Diego and chair-elect of the ophthalmology section of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Granet says that there is a concern among pediatricians that "heavy use of highly stimulating interactive technology" could hurt a child’s ability to focus and pay attention. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "no screen time" for children under the age two.
But, again, Dr. Granet said the scientific literature doesn’t bear out concern regarding the impact of 3-D images on eye development. In fact, when Nintendo put out its announcement, an online discussion group run by Dr. Granet and used by hundreds of ophthalmologists was atwitter not with concern, but curiosity.
"I don’t think that parents need to worry about kids playing video games, 3-D or otherwise, from a vision perspective," said Dr. Granet. "The bigger question for parents is: Do you really want your 3-year-old playing a video game?"