How Virtual Reality Affects Your Eyes

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How Virtual Reality Affects Your Eyes - First Eye Care McKinney

Virtual Reality Keeps Gaining Popularity

Thanks to advancements in virtual reality (VR) technology, we are capable of visiting outer space, underwater worlds, and so much more. Virtual reality manufacturers provide users a host of different video games, apps, and headsets that offer you a chance to engage in an immersive 3D experience. However, since VR technology is so new, little is known about its impact on users, especially its impact on users’ eyes.

After all, virtual reality headsets are designed to be used near your eyes. While the 3D virtual reality experience is an exciting prospect, many people worry about the unknown side effects of using it. The technology is relatively new, and there are no long-term studies on the subject. However, there are still a few things you should know about VR and its relationship with your eyes.

First Eye Care McKinney enjoys brand-new technologies and experiences. We also strive to keep our patient’s eyes healthy. We’ve provided some valuable information to remember when using your VR headsets.

How Does VR Work 

To transport you to sci-fi worlds, VR headsets show each eye a slightly different image to help you perceive depth. VR headsets either utilizes two LCD monitors that show each eye a different image to mimic the way your eyes naturally work, or they send two different feeds to one LCD monitors.

Each headset has lenses placed between your eyes and the displays. Their purpose is to focus and reshape the images for each eye, creating a stereoscopic 3D image. These headsets also provide you with a much wider field of vision, which completely immerses you in the experience. Additionally, VR headsets utilize head tracking, which shifts the images you see as you look up, down, and side to side.

Common Concerns With VR 

As virtual reality continues to increase in popularity, more and more people are expressing their concerns with this technology. Even though there are no longitudinal studies suggesting VR is good or bad for your eyes, people are understandably worried.

Here are a few common concerns about virtual reality headsets:

  • Digital Eye Strain: Much like staring at any digital device for too long, you will naturally experience some form of digital eye strain or fatigue when using a VR headset for an extended time. You tend to blink less when staring at a digital screen, which dries out and tires your eyes. Digital eye strain often leads to headaches and migraines, as well. You should always take breaks when using a VR headset.
  • Cybersickness: While the term cybersickness is relatively new, the concept has been around for some time. It refers to nausea or dizziness you experience when using VR. Your eyes are seeing objects that suggest you should be moving, but you aren’t. This confuses your brain and causes it to panic. Your brain adapts to the rules within the VR simulation. However, once you’re out of the VR world, it takes your brain time to readjust to reality. You are likely to experience symptoms of nausea during this period.
  • Preexisting Eye Conditions: There are countless individuals with access to VR technology that have a preexisting eye condition, such as amblyopia and strabismus. These conditions impact your ability to focus, your depth perception, and normal 3D vision, so you may not experience the same 3D effects as others. Additionally, those with preexisting eye conditions are more likely to experience headaches and dizziness during and after VR use.

What If You Wear Glasses 

Typically, virtual reality headsets are designed to be worn over glasses. Without your glasses, you wouldn’t be able to experience the 3D experience of VR headsets. However, your level of comfort depends on your frames and how short-sighted you are. If possible, contact lenses are your best bet of comfortably enjoying a VR headset while still retaining your clear vision.

However, if contacts aren’t an option for you, you may have to adjust your headset to find the most comfortable fit for you.

What are the Dangers for Children? 

If you have used a VR headset before, you may have noticed that many of them have a manufacturer’s warning saying they are not suitable for children under the age of 12 or 13. However, there have been no longitudinal studies suggesting that virtual reality impacts or harms a child’s eye development. Many eye care experts agree that there is no real reason to be concerned with VR use. They believe that these restrictions are because of the content of the technology as opposed to a threat to your eyes.

However, because your child’s eyes are still developing, it’s important to monitor their VR use and eye health. If they are experiencing eye strain or other vision issues, bring them to First Eye Care McKinney for a comprehensive eye exam.

Potential Benefits 

A study released by The Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Future Visual Entertainment suggests that strategically using high-end VR headsets can improve a preteen’s vision. They even suggest that it can improve their myopia or hyperopia. However, they do point out that the key to experiencing these benefits is by using a high-end headset with a “properly designed virtual image distance,” which not everyone has access to.

Additionally, when used as instructed by your eye care doctor, virtual reality use has shown to:

  • Improve visual acuity in amblyopia
  • Boost hand-eye coordination
  • Improve depth perception
  • Increase reaction time

Protecting Your Eye Health

While there is no solid proof that virtual reality technology is harmful to your eyes, it’s still important to take precautions to ensure your eye health. You can do this by:

  • Giving Your Eyes a Rest: You should avoid staring into a VR headset for extended periods. Rest your eyes from time to time. Adopt the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Invest in Blue Light Glasses: VR headsets still employ the use of digital screens, which means they emit blue light. If you are susceptible to digital eye strain, consider investing in blue light glasses to ease your symptoms. Most VR headsets are designed to be used with glasses, so you can still use your headset while wearing these glasses.
  • Regularly Receiving Eye Exams: There is no better way to protect your eyes and vision than with eye exams. They can recognize and diagnose any eye conditions you may have.

First Eye Care McKinney is here to ensure that your eyes are protected and healthy. If you need a comprehensive eye exam or just want to learn more about VR and how to avoid digital eye strain, contact us today.

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