It's no secret that all forms of 3D content is a leading cause of eye strain. Statistics vary, but most scientists agree that between 10-25% of people are susceptible to eye strain and can even develop splitting headaches after looking at 3D content for too long.
The Nintendo 3DS is no exception.
Even though you do not need to wear glasses when playing the Nintendo 3DS it still causes eye strain just as any 3D content does. This is because all 3D effects are achieved in the same way, by sending two different images to each of your eyes and there before confusing your brain. This confusion causes the illusion of depth.
But not all hope is lost. Nintendo are not going to release a handheld gaming device that immediately alienates over 10% of their audience, and there are plenty of ways to avoid eye strain while playing the Nintendo 3DS:
1. Adjust the 3D Slider . Yep, there's a toggle built right in to the Nintendo 3DS that allows you to toggle the strength of the 3D effects. This is known as the 3D Slider and it simply sits to the right of the top display and allows you to adjust the intensity of the 3D to your looking.
You can either have it on full blast for the full depth (but big risk of eye strain) or switch it to its lowest setting and disable 3D effects completely. You'll have to find what setting works best for you on average, but it's still probably wise to disable the 3D effects at times to proactively fight eye strain.
2. Shorten your gaming sessions . I'm in the minority of people who struggle with 3D content at times. I remember seeing Avatar and not wanting to look away but having a throbbing pain in my head because of all the action. Ideally, you will not put yourself through extended periods of Nintendo 3DS gaming.
Block out times of your day where you can play the 3DS, guilt-free, but do not give yourself enough time to sit there staring at the display for more than an hour. A series of shorter gaming sessions are much better for your eyesight than trying to deal with the pain.
3. Play games with depth . There are two varieties of 3D content: depth and "in your face" – the former is what you want, and the later is what causes the majority of eye strain. Masahiro Sakurai, the game designer behind Kid Icarus: Uprising on the Nintendo 3DS had this to say on the subject of eye strain:
The screen on the 3DS is a really beautiful screen and achieves very nice effects. In my experience of development and actually using it, when you have a lot of objects flying towards the user I find that it's more likely to cause eye strain so during development I'm using objects moving away from the user which does not have that Effect.
But how do you …