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Nintendo 3DS could help diagnose children with eye disorders

3ds kids eyeNintendo was plagued by consumer concern late last year after it warned the public that prolonged use of its 3DS could lead to eye fatigue. But while treating the handheld gaming device as a babysitter could be putting children’s eyes (among other things) in danger, experts are now saying the system could actually have some optical benefits.

According to optometrists, the 3DS can serve as an assessment of eyesight in youth. Putting the device in the hands of those under six and analyzing their reactions to the 3D screen can help catch any vision disorders early on and allow parents and doctors to find solutions. “The 3DS could be a godsend for identifying kids under six who need vision therapy,” associate director for health sciences and policy for the American Optometric Association Michael Duenas told the Canadian Press.

So how exactly will the 3DS illuminate vision issues? If a young user is unable to see the 3D, it could be possible he or she is affected by amblyopia (which is the technical term for a lazy eye). It could also be a less noticeable issue, like problems that could cause reading difficulties. If a young gamer becomes dizzy, uncomfortable, or disoriented while using the 3DS, schedule a trip to the optometrist.

There is disagreement in the medical community regarding to what degree the 3DS will actually help “pre-diagnosis” eye issues in children. While some believe it will provide more opportunity to target vision problems early on, other say this is pure speculation. It’s still unknown what the long-term effects of overuse of a 3DS could be, and of course health professionals are more worried about one problem gaming systems cause: obesity. “Kids should be out running around,” noted director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University Jim Sheedy.

But if the 3DS can get even a few optometrists singing its praises, it might be able to offset those early concerns about the device damaging young eyes.