Does the 3DS cause eye damage?

Does the 3DS cause eye damage?
Page content

Rumors and Speculation Regarding the 3DS

If you’re a gamer or you know some gamers, you’ve probably heard the rumor: Nintendo’s newest console, the Nintendo 3DS, can cause eye strain, eye damage, and even (for those of you conspiracy theorists out there) eye cancer in rare cases. You’re probably wondering whether or not these rumors hold any merit, and whether or not you should be concerned about your friends and family playing the device– not to mention your own health. Thankfully, I’m here to set to rest all of those rumors, because there is no evidence at all of the 3DS causing any sort of permanent strain or damage to the eyes.

Doctor’s Orders

Since its announcement, the 3DS has gotten a lot of bad press regarding the health issues surrounding the act of playing it. Respected news organizations such as Guardian (U.K.) began spreading slanderous stories about it, coming up with fake polls to help their cause, all in the name of getting attention. Is there any truth to these polls and studies done? University of Cambridge graphics and imaging expert Dr. Neil A Dodgson weighs in on the subject:

"[The 3D effects], for them, will be a feeling of sore eyes or a headache, which will cause no permanent damage but will mean that they cannot use the 3D device. Fortunately for the 3D industry, these ‘very sensitive’ people are relatively uncommon."

So, if experts such as Dr. Dodgson feel that the 3DS doesn’t have any sort of effect on vision (at least not permanently), then what’s all the fuss about? Is there, perhaps, some unknown truth to these rumors? Or is it really all just crazy theories? To clarify, let’s take a look at how the 3DS works.

Parallax Barriers


If you’ve never heard the term “parallax barrier” before, I don’t blame you. While the idea has been around for a relatively long time, it didn’t come into mainstream use until recently, but if you need help trying to figure it out, think about it like this:

Remember those old books that had “magic images” in them? To use those, you have to move your eyes close to the image and slowly pull them away, sort of looking “past” the image in order for the 3D to pop out at you. If you didn’t do it quite right, it would often give you headaches, and the 3DS works in much the same way. Ask yourself: Do you fear getting eye cancer or permanent eye damage from things like that?

So… There’s No Risk?

The bottom line here is that, no, you cannot, and will never get any sort of permanent eye damage or eye cancer from playing the 3DS. It can, without a doubt, cause discomfort in some players, and I’ll be the first to admit that at first, I had the same feeling of small headaches after playing. At this point, you’d have two choices: Turn the 3D off, and don’t worry about the discomfort anymore, or stick with it and let your brain adjust. Just like using any new technology, it takes time to get used to it.


1. Information Reference:

2. Information Reference (2): All other information comes from prior author knowledge.

3. Image References: