Can 3D Technology Affect Your Child’s Vision?

The world cannot seem to get enough of 3D technology. Despite the physical world around us being 3D, it is somehow more impressive when a movie or a video game can recreate that life in three-dimensionality.

But, as fun and realistic as 3D makes movies and games, this technology may be harming your children’s eyesight. To say children have delicate eyes is an understatement. Though little research exists as of yet, health organizations around the world fear that 3D technology may be affecting the development of young eyes.

With 3D technology constantly evolving to take new forms and to become more accessible to everyone, it is something that is definitely concerning when it comes to your child’s eyesight.

What is 3D Technology?

Can 3D Technology Affect Your Child’s Vision?Long gone are the days of wearing one blue lens and one red lens to painstakingly watch a 3D movie as your flimsy glasses bend and slip off your face. You walk into a 3D movie these days wearing some sleek, almost sunglass-like glasses (but please don’t wear them as sunglasses).

The earliest confirmed 3D movie was released in 1922! After that, 3D technology came and went; it hit a golden era in the 1950s; then it lost popularity and gained popularity until about 2009 when the blockbuster Avatar was released. This movie relaunched 3D movies. Before you knew it, everything was in 3D.

Now that we’re living in a new golden era of 3D movies, naturally there are those who are now using this technology for gaming and at home use (ex. virtual reality gaming and 3D televisions).

As fun as 3D is (unless you’re one of the unlucky few who get motion sickness from it), is it a safe technology to be exposing our children to?

3D and Visual Safety

We’ve covered the topic of children’s eye development in the past and if you’ve read our article, you’ll know that it is a complex and slow process; but one that is absolutely crucial to a child’s development. Without good eyesight your child may face many obstacles, including difficulty learning and being excluded from sports and other activities.

When babies are born the size of the eye is almost fully formed in terms of size. Eyes grow very minimally and reach their adult form at around the age of 13. However, that doesn’t mean that the eyes come fully developed.

Throughout infancy all the way to your child’s 18th birthday, their eyes will be developing. These formative years are incredibly important as even the slightest eye developmental issue can cause a lifetime of bad vision.

In fact, some vision conditions, such as amblyopia (lazy eye), are easily correctable during childhood, but relatively incurable in adulthood.

The main concern among health organizations such as France’s health and safety organization, ANSES, is that prolonged and excessive exposure to 3D technology will lead to developmental issues in the eye.

We’ve all been told not to sit too close to the television as kids, for fear of developing various vision problems. Now parents all around the world need to be urging their kids to lay off the 3D games and movies.

3D technology is not new, but what is new is the accessibility of it for children. Because it is a rather recent phenomenon, little research exists to support the claim that 3D technology is hindering eye development in children.

However, the few ophthalmologist experts who have spoken on the issue claim that 3D technology won’t damage your child’s eyes if used wisely. But if used unwisely, no one knows the ending to that story unfortunately.

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Though the exact impact on our children’s eyesight from long term use of 3D technology is not known, we do know of some short term effects to look out for. Luckily, many of these symptoms are similar to digital eye strain symptoms that are nothing to worry too much about because they are easily treated.

If your children use a lot of 3D technology, be sure to keep an eye out for these symptoms:

1. Eye Strain

Eye strain is a common symptom of excessive screen use. But the reason 3D technology causes more eye strain in a shorter amount of time is because 3D glasses force the eyes to focus in ways that they aren’t used to. As a result, the eyes become fatigued quicker.

2. Frequent Headaches

Eye strain inevitably leads to headaches because the brain has trouble focusing as well. When the eyes become tired from focusing, so does the brain. Ask your child if they get headaches while watching 3D movies or playing 3D games to make sure they aren’t going overboard.

3. Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is also a symptom of eye strain. We’ve all had long days of staring at a computer only to look away and find that everything is blurred. Children are not exempt from this, especially if they’re using 3D technology.

These symptoms are difficult to tell unless your child is very in tune with their own vision. Chances are, they aren’t. They’ll think it’s a normal occurrence when using 3D technology. Asking them about their eyesight after using 3D technology is the first step in treating these symptoms.

Treatments and Solutions

This visual concern is very easily solved. Limit and monitor your child’s intake of 3D technology. There’s no reason to ban 3D technology from children; not to mention it’s an unrealistic goal too.

If you teach them how to use this fun and exciting technology responsibly, you’ll provide them with good screen use habits for the rest of their lives. Here are some tips:

  • Have your children take breaks from the 3D. Lift the glasses off their heads every once in a while to give their eyes a break. Just make sure it isn’t during the climax of the movie!
  • Don’t use it every day. 3D technology isn’t like a smartphone, which many of us rely on for work and communication. Let 3D movies and games be a treat for your little ones. They’ll appreciate it more this way too!
  • Teach your children about the risks. There’s no reason to scare them into thinking they’ll go blind if they watch 3D movies, but by being honest with them about the risks and symptoms of overusing this technology you’ll create an open dialogue with them about the issue. Hopefully they won’t be shy coming to you if there is a problem with their eyes.

3D technology has pushed entertainment to a whole new level. There’s no reason to toss this technology out the window, nor would we want to. It’s too much fun!

Take care of your children’s eyes by limiting their exposure to 3D technology and making sure that they understand how the technology can affect their eye health.

About the Author

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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One response to “Can 3D Technology Affect Your Child’s Vision?”

  1. Farnsworth says:

    Some have reported that the “Magic Eye” books are helpful for their vision, since they make eyes work together to see 3D images. Perhaps the latest VR technology could have a similar effect? Fast-moving video games seem to be good for improving visual acuity.

    As far as potential problems, I would wonder about the screen and electrical energy being so close to the eyes, as with Google cardboard. We already have warnings about the dangers of blue light as regards sleep, for example.

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