The new Nintendo 3DS is set to arrive between February and March of 2011, and we already have received a lot of information regarding its stereoscopic capabilities. What is more important, we have also received health messages warning about the risks associated with using the new Nintendo DS device and 3D technology in general.
Included in these messages are very concerning statements claiming that the 3Ds' 3D mode should not be used by children under 6. Nintendo also warned against long periods of gameplay claiming that extended 3D video watching could harm the vision specially in young children.
So we asked ourselves, can the 3Ds and 3D technologies in general actually harm your vision? After doing some research the opinion of experts is still very much divided. Studies from the University of California Berkeley found that too much 3D watching will cause eyestrain along with headaches. Apparently, when you are watching 3D content, you are actually focusing on things that are far and near both at the same time, and this ends up causing blurry vision and headaches. The studies also show that by watching 3D content the brain has to "re-learn" to see and that is why 3D content be more damaging for young viewers, if their brains are still in their developmental stages the ill effects of 3D could be greatly increased.
Some other experts argue that 3D watching is only harmful if it's carried out over a long period of time. The only issue with 3D viewing is that your eyes have to focus far and near all the time, but this is something that we should be able to do naturally. If it's done over short periods of time with some periods of rest there should be no actual harm to your eyes. It is very much like a good workout and if done with measure there should be no actual damage to your sight.
Even though 3D technology has been around for a long time, we haven't experienced widespread adoption of it until now. The 3DS is just an example of how the entertainment industry (both video games and movies) is pushing to make 3D content available to everybody so it's hard to really have a conclusive answer regarding the health risks that this technology might bring right now. We can only hope that more studies are done and that the manufacturers creating the technology are responsible enough to push out a product that won't bring health risks to its users.