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Eye Doctors Group Says 3DS Could Be Useful For Identifying Vision Problems

Eye Doctors Group Says 3DS Could Be Useful For Identifying Vision Problems

March 23, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Amidst fears that Nintendo's new glasses-free 3DS could cause vision problems in young children, the American Optometric Association says the device may actually be useful in identifying vision disorders early.

AOA associate director for health sciences and policy Michael Duenas tells the AP the 3DS "could be a godsend" for identifying vision problems such as amblyopia (a.k.a. "lazy eye") in young children.

Stereoscopic 3D displays, including the 3DS, are missing some of the subtle, real-world cues that make it easy to judge depth, meaning that players with eye movement problems may have trouble experiencing the 3D effect, the optometrists say.

Such problems are easier to fix in children younger than six, yet only 15 percent of preschoolers have had a comprehensive eye exam that could catch such problems, making 3D game consoles an ideal test that children seek out themselves.

"This has presented my profession, optometry, a wonderful opportunity," AOA president Joe Ellis told the AP.

There's been little scientific study into the long-term effects of stereoscopic 3D viewing on developing vision, a fact that hasn't stopped Nintendo from warning on game and hardware packaging that the 3DS' glasses-free stereoscopic effect is not for children 6 and younger.

The AOA's Mark Bochert previously told Gamasutra stereoscopic 3D systems are "not likely to cause any permanent harm to vision."

The 36,000 members AOA has teamed up the 3DAtHome Consortium -- a group of technology manufacturers and Hollywood studios -- to share information about the effects of stereoscopic 3D viewing, and to develop assessment tools and therapies for any vision problems that might develop.

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