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Can 3D movies and games damage your eyes, or those of your children?

With all of the discussion about the merits, or lack thereof, in 3D entertainment, we haven't yet stopped to ask if it's going to make your eyeballs explode. Let's rectify that.

3D might be the latest sensation in town, but sometimes humanity does things without thinking of their potential impact on our future selves. That GM goat they mixed with spider DNA, for example -- eugh. So are all we all risking blindness by gawping at 3D displays and movies through those dangerously uncool glasses?

If you've ever spent time watching a 3D TV, you'll no doubt have felt a little uncomfortable. Does this mean your eyeballs are about to explode, rendering both your face and your 3D glasses a bit of a mess? Current medical thinking suggests not, but there are some caveats you should be aware of.

Firstly, children are advised against wearing 3D glasses, or even using Nintendo's new glasses-free 3DS. In an interview with US film magazine Premiere, specialist ophthalmologist Dr James Salz told the magazine he'd not seen any negative side effects on children who watched 3D stuff, nor had he heard of any from his professional eye chums.

He did suggest that your eyes work a little harder than they do with 2D images -- as the renowned film editor Walter Murch explained in a fascinating letter to critic Roger Ebert -- but the only problem you'd have is tiredness, eye-strain or a headache. Minor, if undesirable, problems in our opinion.

That hasn't stopped gaming companies Sony and Nintendo from delivering stern warnings about children using their products and adults using them for extended periods. Nintendo suggests kids under 6 shouldn't use the 3DS in 3D mode at all, and adults and older children should limit their time to just 30 minutes per session. As gamers aren't entirely well known for enjoying their hobby in moderation, that caused something of a fuss on gaming sites.

In fact, research from various places and studies indicates Sony and Nintendo are merely being cautious, rather than reacting from some secret study. Good Housekeeping is keen to reassure parents that the risks are fairly close to zero in reality.  

Proving what we said previously about humanity and its dubious decisions, Dr Lawrence Tychsen, professor of pediatrics and ophthalmology at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, has been making baby Rhesus monkeys wear 3D glasses all day for three months, the New York Times reports. The results of this study were that -- thankfully -- the monkeys developed perfectly normal eyesight.

So, while 3D's obnoxious marketing message might cause your brain to fold in on itself and render you incoherent, the glasses and technology itself can't destroy your eyes. For the most part, these warnings are part of the glorious world of corporate backside-covering. After all, no one wants to get sued when little Johnny fails his exams because he sees everything in real life with a double edge.