Is 3D Viewing and Gaming Bad for your eyes?

Posted on Feb 24 2011 - 10:35pm by Richard Sharp

The recent fuss over the Nintendo 3DS usage warnings has opened up a bit of a debate over the dangers, or otherwise, of playing 3D games on the Japanese made device. While far from Japan, in Peterborough to be exact, a different but related story about the dangers of viewing 3D movies proved to be a false alarm.

With the Nintendo machine presumably opening up the market for a wave of 3D gaming devices, and with more 3D television sets, movies and television series being produced all the time, it is clear that this is an issue which is going to be of growing importance in the months and years to come.

It is therefore a good time to look at the facts which we have at the moment and consider where the future might lead us and how to get the best of the latest 3D technology without running any unnecessary risks with our health and vision.

If we start with the Peterborough story first, it really came to down to a bit of confusion when the local mayor, who is called Keith Sharp, wanted to rent a 3D movie and was told that he couldn’t for health and safety reasons. The unfortunate rental assistant who caused the issue had misread some head office guidelines which were actually designed to avoid giving out the 3D glasses and were nothing to do with the dangers of viewing 3D telly.

However, the news which this story attracted caused a lot of people to wonder whether there was actually any danger in watching 3D films. Of course, the TV manufacturers have put a lot of money into their new sets and were quick to reassure the public that there was no danger. Many manufacturers – such as Samsung and Sony – issue guidelines about the type of people who should avoid exposure to 3D images and also advise a safe viewing distance for their sets. 

The potential problem is that the way a 3D set works is by tricking your eyes into seeing something which isn’t really true. Most industry experts believe that a small percentage of the population may have a low tolerance to 3D television but that the majority will be fine provided that they find the best distance for their viewing and don’t watch this kind of image all day long.

The Nintendo 3DS issue is perhaps a little more complicated, as it is a hand held set which is going to be a lot closer to the user than a big screen telly and for a lot more time.

The Japanese gaming giant has already issued warnings about the use of their new device and even banned children from using the devices in a recent Tokyo show. As a fall back, the Nintendo 3DS has a 2D mode and also a sliding scale of 3D depth which the user can set.

Until more conclusive research is carried out, or until the public has had enough exposure to this new technology to fully assess it, the best bet seems to be to enjoy the 3D images in moderation.

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