Now that summer vacation is in full swing, are your children putting in some serious time with their video games? You might want to set some limits to how long they play — especially if they play games that are in 3D.

A video game with three-dimensional, or 3D, graphics displays a realistic environment that appears to have height, width and depth.

Many of these games come with a warning sticker that says they should not be used by young children because the 3D visuals can put a strain on their still-developing vision.

Eye strain

The eye-popping images are composed using two offset images with slight differences. This can create a potential for eye strain, says pediatric ophthalmologist Allison Babiuch, MD.

“That causes a problem for your eyes,” Dr. Babiuch says. “This is because your eyes are used to focusing in a certain way. Then your brain processes that information to tell the distance of the image.”

Other factors can affect your child’s vision as well. For example, the closer your child sits to the screen or the more pronounced the 3D technology is, the more likely it is to cause a vision problem.

Possible symptoms associated with 3D imagery can include headaches, eye strain and fatigue.

As long as your child doesn’t have any known problem with their eyes, Dr. Babiuch says, it’s okay for them to use 3D video games — just not all day long.

When to see a doctor

Dr. Babiuch says it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your child’s vision.

If your child complains of blurry vision or if one or both eyes do not appear to be pointing straight, it’s time to see a doctor for an evaluation.

There is no research that demonstrates long-term eye damage from 3D video games, Dr. Babiuch says. But parents should keep a close watch on how much total screen time their kids are exposed to — whether it’s 3D or not.

“There have been no published research studies that have shown that it causes any permanent problems. But 3D video games can, with prolonged use, cause children to have a headache or to have blurry vision or to have a crossing eye,” Dr. Babiuch says.

Eliminating video games from your child’s life is unrealistic. But because you can’t control it completely, the best thing to do is put limits to them.

Dr. Babiuch recommends that parents limit their children’s time with 3D technology the same way they limit all screen time — to two hours or less per day. For younger children, screen time should be even less.


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