Today there has been a lot of discussion about an unreleased hand-gaming system cleverly called the the Nintendo 3DS. The system is similar to the popular Nintendo DS, which has a small touch-screen, but the 3DS allows users to play games in 3D without the use of 3D glasses.
The DS can be a lot of fun and can even be used as therapy in some cases. However, its tiny screen and close viewing can cause eye fatigue, blurry vision, headaches, and discomfort with prolonged use. The best advice is to hold the game at Elbow Distance and take frequent breaks.
"Vision of children under the age of 6 is in the developmental stage. Nintendo 3DS, 3-D, including 3-D movies and television, delivers 3-D images with different left and right eye images, which has a potential impact on the growth of children's eyes." (translation)
It is true that young children are still developing visual skills (adults do as well, just not as quickly) and it is likely that intense near work plays a role in the development of myopia or nearsightedness. So it is a good idea to minimize the amount of time young children spend on any near task, whether it be 2D or 3D. Playing outdoors is a great alternative.
For older kids and adults, the 3DS is probably a lot of fun. I definitely will try it out. But remember, as always, moderation is important. Take breaks every 20 or 30 minutes. If your eye doctor has prescribed glasses for reading, use them while playing. And if you do experience headaches, blurry or double vision, or other problems after playing the 3DS, be sure to have a thorough eye exam. That could be the indication of more serious problems.
UPDATE: For more info and background, see this VisionHelp post by Dr. Len Press.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.