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Are Virtual Reality Headsets Safe for Our Eyes?
October 9, 2017

Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are becoming more common place in our society, but very little is known about their effects on our eyes and eyesight. VR headsets offer a mind-blowing, immersive experience, captivating users by transporting them to another world. It is really important to know how VR headsets work to understand the ways they can harm your vision, particularly if you’re using them for extended periods of time.

The majority of VR headsets contain two miniature LCD monitors, each directed at one eye, creating a three-dimensional illusion. Experts have wondered about the possible adverse effects of having these monitors so close to the eyes, particularly for long-term viewing. Eye strain occurs when you focus on something for a long period, like staring at a computer or watching a very long movie. There are warnings for children on most VR headsets because children’s eyes are continuously developing, and extended exposure to the artificial visual construct created by VR headsets can disrupt children’s visual development, affecting their ability to focus, track, and perceive depth. VR headsets are also linked to “Cybersickness,” a type of motion sickness that occurs when there is a discrepancy between visual communication and the actual physical position of the body.

However, there is a positive side to VR headsets: When an optometrist manages their use, some VR headsets help develop and improve vision. Systems have been designed that enhance visual acuity in conditions like amblyopia, and boost eye-hand coordination, reaction time, eye coordination, and depth perception. Virtual reality is a rapidly evolving technology, and new applications are frequently emerging. However, for the present, the best way to protect your eyesight is to take the warnings that come on VR headsets seriously and limit how much time you spend in the virtual world. Also, if you or your children are VR users make sure you protect your vision by visiting your optometrist regularly for comprehensive eye exams.