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Virtual reality (VR) headsets offer an immersive viewing experience that may seem like a dream come true for many. The technology has the potential to allow individuals to be transported to, explore, and interact with places and experiences, all from the comfort and safety of their homes. But before diving into this amazing technology, it is important to understand what exactly these headsets are and how their use can affect your eyesight, especially when used frequently.
What Are VR Headsets?
When first released, VR headsets were bulky and expensive. As its technology advanced, however, different brands have developed lighter versions at more affordable prices. Now available are a variety of devices designed to provide an immersive multimedia experience through electronic equipment worn on the head or the body.
The headsets’ common features include motion tracking systems (head-mounted displays), stereoscopic vision and smartphones that can double as controllers for in-game navigation. Virtual reality is being used to create not only innovative experiences in entertainment but also in education, medicine and business applications.
With all that being said, using virtual reality technology does present potential risks. Studies have suggested that people can feel sick or motion-sick from the movement of the environment presented to them. They may also suffer headaches due to eye strain. Concerns about long-term effects have also been discussed by eye specialists, including eye fatigue and far more serious issues, such as neurological problems associated with cognitive development and a person’s emotional well-being.
Potential Eye Problems From VR Headsets
The unease that people feel when using virtual reality headsets is not unfounded. Let’s take a look at some of the potential eye problems they may cause and how they can be managed.
Head-mounted displays use technology that can create a strain on the eyes. The headsets may cause your eye muscles to get fatigued due to rapidly changing views or from focusing for long periods. This is in addition to how far away or close you hold the device. Symptoms include headaches and burning, itching, and dryness in the eyes.
The rapid movement of some virtual reality programs, combined with the fact that there are no frames of reference to keep track of, can sometimes cause blurriness if they’re used for too long. This could happen when a person moves quickly through a simulated landscape or game world, and it’s what contributes the most to the motion sickness experienced by many users. The disorientation caused by this blurriness may result in an even more severe form of eye fatigue.
Another potential issue associated with VR headsets is dry eyes. When a person focuses their visual attention on an object for extended periods while using the headset, they can experience temporary bouts of dryness in their eyes. This is because the eye needs to lubricate itself by blinking at regular intervals. When people become too focused on something, they blink less often than usual — leading to eye dryness.
How to Reduce Eye Problems From VR Headsets
The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to help reduce potential eye problems from virtual reality headsets.
If you’re feeling eye fatigue or your eyes are getting dry, take regular short breaks. This can give your eyes and brain the necessary break they need when using a VR headset.
The majority of virtual reality headsets allow you to adjust their settings, such as resolution, brightness and field of view. Everyone sees things differently, so play around with the available options until you find the combination that’s most comfortable for your eyes.
Wear Glasses or Contacts
If you wear glasses, make sure to consider them in your VR experience. Some headsets are designed so that individuals wearing glasses can get a better view of the virtual environment, helping reduce eye fatigue. In most cases, however, wearing contact lenses may be the better option. Visit an optometrist for a contact eye exam to see if they’re right for you.
Benefits of Virtual Reality Headsets
Despite the potential adverse effects on your eyes, virtual reality technology does have some unique benefits worth mentioning. Entertainment-wise, it offers a much more immersive way to explore and learn than traditional TV or computer screens. Additionally, this type of technology is being increasingly used in several new industries, such as healthcare, real estate and tourism.
Uses of Virtual Reality Headsets
Medical professionals are using virtual reality headsets to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. This includes phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders and other chronic issues.
Meanwhile, realtors are deploying the technology to stage homes more effectively. Removing physical limitations, such as geography or time and distance constraints, allows people to virtually tour buildings before visiting in person for an appointment.
In addition to healthcare and real estate applications, VR provides potential new savings when it comes to air travel costs for business meetings or sightseeing purposes.
Virtual Reality Therapy
Virtual reality is also becoming a viable way to use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques in order to break bad habits. Through simulated scenarios, VR can help bring emotional or physical triggers into a controlled environment. This allows therapists to expose individuals with addictions or phobias to these triggers while providing simultaneous therapeutic guidance.
To conclude, virtual reality headsets present a unique set of benefits for video entertainment and other uses in healthcare, real estate and business meetings. However, potential risks to the eyes should be taken into consideration when using VR headsets. Taking regular breaks from this technology and adjusting the settings can help reduce any strain or discomfort associated with its use.
If you would like more advice on how to enjoy virtual reality while keeping your vision sharp in Minneapolis, MN, visit Downtown Eyes. We are always ready to answer any questions regarding eye health. At our eye clinic, you have access to experienced eye health professionals who will guide and advise you on the proper ways to care for your eyes. To schedule a visit at our clinic and explore more ways to take better care of your vision today, contact us through our online form.