3D is all the rage right now, with cinemas and home theatre equipment both beefing up with glasses-mandatory viewing. Even gaming on-the-go is heading that way too with Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld.
While 3D gives us a neat effect while watching Toy Story 3, taking the kids to see that one over and over again, and eventually when it's on Blu-ray Disc, isn't a good idea at all.
According researchers who have been examining 3D video for years, the exposing children under the age of seven could affect their vision in a bad way. You see, our 3D human vision relies on our two eyes sending an image to our brains, which then makes stereoscopic sense out of it. This gives us depth perception – something that our brains only fully develop by the time we hit six years old.
Some of us aren't able to fully develop stereoscopic vision due to malaise in children called strabismus, sometimes known as lazy eye. This condition is treatable by training the nervous system to 'learn' stereopsis.
More than 15 years ago, Sega was toying with a VR headset that would give the wearer 3D images near the eye; but following a test by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) at Palo Alto California, Sega was warned that the peripheral should not be given to kids – a tough order given that the video game market at the time was catered to a younger audience. The project was ditched, and 3D VR headsets slowly disappeared from the market.
Now that 3D is back, bigger than ever, the risk is even greater for young viewers. Adults are believed to be mostly safe from 3D effects, though most will likely find that they reach a point of fatigue before long anyway.