Mothers have always warned against sitting too close to the TV, but is it true that VR is bad for your eyes? Similar to a headset, this puts a high-resolution screen within millimeters of your retina.
It’s important to know how the best VR headsets affect your eyes, regardless of whether you’re new to virtual reality or a professional player.
VR isn’t the only cause of eye fatigue. In VR, wearing a headset might cause motion sickness for some, but if a bit of eye strain is the concern, don’t worry.
People who have worked on computers for a long time are well aware of the drawbacks of sitting too close to a computer screen.
In the same way that focusing on small text for too long at a time takes its toll, screens do the same in another way: by emitting blue light. The same goes for virtual reality.
There’s no evidence that long-term damage is caused by VR headsets, but researchers say they may cause eye problems.
We recommend paying attention to the warnings that come with VR headsets, minimizing time spent in virtual worlds, and having regular eye exams with an optometrist to ensure eye health and contribute to overall health.
Those who are interested in virtual reality can also consult their optometrist about VR prescription lenses. If you already wear corrective glasses, these prescription inserts can be fitted into your favorite headset.
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Are VR Headsets Harmful to Your Eyesight? Any Evidence?
VR developer Danny Bittman complained in 2020 that wearing a VR headset for hours a day had harmed his vision.
Despite wearing eyeglasses to correct the problem, Bittman claims that his vision deteriorated “dramatically” over a three-year period.
Just had my 1st eye doctor visit in 3 years. Now I’m very worried about my future VR use. I have a new eye convergence problem that acts like dyslexia. The doc, a headset owner, is convinced my VR use caused this. He said “these are glasses we usually prescribe to 40 year olds”.— Dani Bittman (@DaniBittman) June 9, 2020
Bittman’s case was reported by BBC News, which noted there’s no evidence that using VR headsets results in permanent vision loss among children or adults. Ophthalmologists make the same point.
However, that does not mean it is impossible. In short, the proper studies haven’t been conducted yet, and not enough time has passed to gather data. Don’t fill in the blanks with assumptions when there is no evidence!
According to a 2017 survey conducted by the nonprofit group Common Sense, 8% of parents with children aged 8 to 17 who use VR reported that their kids suffer from eye strain caused by the technology.
Due to the nature of some VR content and its size, manufacturers warn that children under the age of 13 should not use VR headsets.
However, according to a study published in 2020, young children tolerate “completely immersive” VR games with no “notable effects” on visual perception and physical movement coordination.
A study published in 2017 showed that children 8 to 12 who played a VR video game for 20 minutes showed no serious deterioration in vision. However, two of the participants had difficulty detecting distances.
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What Are The VR Effects On Your Eyes
Everything you do in excess will negatively affect you, whether you work too hard, eat too much, or spend eight hours a day playing Beat Saber on your Quest 2.
VR headsets can cause eye strain, eye discomfort, eye fatigue, and blurred vision, according to research.
Too much time staring at a VR screen can end up causing eye strain or fatigue, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How? This is because we tend to blink less when using devices with digital screens, which causes eye strain.
According to a study published in 2019, eye fatigue among users of VR headsets is related to the disparity between virtual and perceived depths.
Visually induced motion sickness is another eye-related issue associated with VR headsets. As well as eye strain and fatigue, other symptoms associated with this so-called “cybersickness” include headaches, lightheadedness, drowsiness, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.
Cybersickness may be more likely to strike children, women, and people with unstable posture, defects in their field of vision, or a history of motion sickness.
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How to Avoid Eye Strain in VR?
What can you do to make it better? With enough practice and patience, your eyes will adjust to the VR experience, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to totally remove the impacts.
Virtual reality isn’t the only cause of digital eye strain. If you focus on something long enough, you’ll still feel it; whether it’s a computer screen at your desk, a laptop, a phone, or a tablet.
I don’t think it’s a problem with the screens being so close. It is because we don’t take steps to relax the muscles we eventually strain.
Last year, the BBC reported that a doctor said virtual reality had damaged their patient’s vision. According to Ceri Smith-Jaynes from the Association of Optometrists, there is no “reliable evidence that VR headsets may permanently harm children’s or adults’ eyesight.”
It is now understood that the blue light emitted by most screens contributes to the strain we experience after staring at them for a long time.
In addition, it keeps us awake by preventing our brains from releasing the natural chemicals needed for sleep.
As a result, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are pushing software-level blue light filters right now, and tinted glasses are available everywhere on Amazon.
Having spent 16 hours a day staring at screens, I can confirm these steps do help. There is even a night mode integrated into the software of the Oculus Quest 2 because of this.
However, blue light isn’t the cause of every problem. And a filter cannot solve all our problems. Despite the fact that books do not emit blue light, we still strain to concentrate during a good book. This is because of the distance between us and the screen.
You may have been told to take a break from your computer screen from time to time if you’ve ever worked in an office.
An official recommendation is to take 15 minutes every hour. Although no boss would ever allow it, for the sake of eye health, it is recommended.
When you focus on something for too long, your eyes will strain. This is what happens when you stare at a screen. Keeping your eye on something for too long won’t stretch those muscles.
How can it be fixed? Avoid looking at it. It is good to look at the wall behind your screen, at the tree outside, or even toward the door of the break room.
Oh, and that 15 minutes you suggested? Give your eyes a break from that blue light by drinking a glass of water, stretching, and looking at something else.
In VR, as in the real world, it’s a win-win-win situation. Last but not least, you should try to customize your headset to meet your needs.
Some premium headsets include features like extra space inside to accommodate spectacles, adapters as aftermarket fixes, or even prescription lenses designed especially for VR.
If you wear glasses or not, you can change the spacing of the lenses physically or virtually to suit your own eyes.
Experiencing eye strain in VR is normal, and the fix is simple: remove the headset, hydrate yourself, and take a break from the screens. Moderation is the key to enjoying VR for longer.
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VR Headsets and Vision: What Meta Says?
According to Facebook-owned Meta, 1 in 4,000 Oculus VR headset users may experience symptoms associated with seizures, such as twitching or jerking muscles, severe dizziness, or blackout due to light flashes or patterns.
A VR headset user may encounter this issue when watching TV, playing a video game, or otherwise immersing themselves in virtual reality.
According to Oculus, this kind of reaction is more common in children and young people. Oculus recommends that anyone experiencing these symptoms stop using the VR headset and see a doctor.
If you experience any of the following, Oculus recommends stopping the use of the VR headset immediately:
- Eye strain.
- Eye or muscle twitching.
- Eye discomfort or eye pain.
- Double vision, blurred vision, or other vision problems.
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The Benefits of VR for Eyes
Although VR headsets have concerns about damaging our vision, they can also help people to enhance their vision.
VR headsets can help improve eye coordination, hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and reaction time when used with the guidance of an eye care professional.
VR headsets can also improve visual acuity for people with lazy eyes (amblyopia).
Furthermore, VR headsets can help people with low vision regain their sight. A California company called IrisVision makes VR headsets and software that have helped thousands of vision-impaired people improve their vision.
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FAQ – Is VR Bad for Your Eyes
When Should I Visit an Eye Doctor?
VR headset users who notice changes in their vision (such as blurry vision) or feel eye discomfort or eye pain should stop using the headset and consult their eye doctor.
Your doctor will examine your eyes to determine if you have any vision problems that need to be treated.
Is VR Bad for 13-year-olds?
VR headset age limit: no consensus
Does VR Affect Sleep?
Researchers have found that virtual reality, in combination with relaxation techniques, can improve sleep quality.
One study found VR helped teens with insomnia get better sleep. Learn More Here
Can VR Cause Anxiety?
VR system and AR system were both able to trigger anxiety mentioned in this post on the Hindawi website.
Does Virtual Reality Cause Cancer?
There is no evidence that virtual reality causes cancer yet.
Can VR Cause Blindness?
There is no evidence that VR headsets cause long-term damage to the eyes, according to researchers.
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