3D is OK for Most Kids, says the American Optometric Association

Consumer Reports News: June 03, 2011 10:38 AM

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In an effort to address what it believes is a fair amount of misinformation about the effects of 3D viewing on younger children, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has posted a 3D eye health FAQ on its website that tackles many commonly asked questions about the issue.

This isn't the AOA's first step into the world of 3D and discussions about the effect it can have on viewers. Earlier this year I attended an AOA-sponsored symposium—held in partnership with the 3D@Home Consortium—during which it was suggested that people who don't experience 3D or who have problems with it should get a comprehensive eye exam, as often these issues can be caused by an undiagnosed eye condition.

At that event, the AOA panelists also said that while there has been some concern that prolonged or frequent viewing of 3D content could cause eye problems, there is currently no evidence that supports that notion.

Still, concerns about the effect that 3D viewing can have on younger kids linger (for example, Nintendo recommends use of the 3D feature on the 3DS, its portable gaming console, only for children 7 and over). To address this issue, the AOA has posted a FAQ with answers to many common questions. Among the AOA's conclusions:

  • Since most children have established basic binocular vision by age 3, they can safely enjoy 3D movies, TV shows, and games.
  • As with most activities, moderation is important when it comes to 3D viewing, but the time limitations for 3D should be no different than for viewing 2D content. But the AOA says that due to the closer viewing distance, handheld 3D devices actually place higher demands on the eyes than do movies, so more frequent breaks are recommended.
  • For most children, there isn't a concern that watching 3D programs or games can trigger seizures. The AOA cautions that parents with kids diagnosed with conditions such as photosensitive epilepsy or those taking medications that are known to lower seizure thresholds should exercise caution with both 2D and 3D television. The group says there is no current evidence that seizure risks are any greater with 3D than they are with regular TV programs or movies.

To read the entire FAQ and to find out more about the AOA's positions on 3D, visit the new 3Deyehealth area of the AOA's website. For more general information about 3D viewing, see the 3DUniversity website. And for parents with children diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy, the AOA recommends reading this document (in PDF format).

American Optometric Association
3D@Home Conortium
3D University

James K. Willcox

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