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Are Virtual Reality Headsets Safe For Your Eyes?

wearing VR headset

You’ve heard of virtual reality (VR) headsets, right? These headsets are becoming more and more popular, allowing users to transport themselves into an entirely different world. The technology is being used not just for entertainment, but its use in the workplace is also being explored. In the not too distant future, employees may have VR headsets instead of computer screens. Amazing, but are they safe for your eyes?


What Is A VR Headset?

Although many of us have heard of VR headsets, what they really are or do is confusing to most. Like the name suggests this type of technology allows users to interact with a different environment while wearing a headset that fits over the eyes. WhatIs.com explains “VR headsets replace the user’s natural environment with virtual reality content, such as a movie, a game or a prerecorded 360-degree VR environment that allows the user to turn and look around, just as in the physical world.” Pretty neat, eh!


Should You Be Concerned About Using VR Headsets?

I always tell all my patients to err on the side of caution, so when it comes to VR headsets, the same rule applies. Although there is a lack of long-term studies on the effects of this technology, we do know some things:

  1. Eye strain can occur from focusing on something for too long. This often occurs when you stare at your computer without a break, and why optometrists recommended employing the 20-20-20 rule. The same can occur while using a VR Headset. However, the fact that your eyes can’t actually get a break unless the headset is physically removed is something users should be aware of and do to avoid this uncomfortable eye issue.
  2. Detrimental effects on children’s eyes. We know that when children’s eyes are still developing, screen time should be limited and usage should be monitored closely. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of developing nearsightedness or myopia. The Canadian Association of Optometrists also states, “Extended exposure to the awkward visual posture created by VR headsets can alter the development of focusing, tracking, and depth perception.” Check out our blog post on what is too much screen time for my child, which helps parents how to manage children’s screen time.

“…it is obvious there are side effects of such technology.”

Our world is now more than ever, changing at a rapid pace, especially when it comes to technology. For example, who would have thought ten years ago our cell phones would be mini computers. Unfortunately, the health effects of many widely used technological tools like cell phones, have not been examined in depth. However, it is obvious there are side effects of such technology.

So what about VR headsets? We are seeing more and more of them being used in all sorts of environments. Being aware of warnings, and employing VR  headsets as recommended is a first step in keeping your eyes safe. Additionally, being aware of what we already know in the medical world, for example, what has been highlighted above can give users more useful guidelines. In other words, do your homework. Lastly, keeping up to date with your comprehensive eye exams. An eye exam can reveal a lot more than what you might think. At Inner Harbour Optometry we are dedicated to being medically focused, and provide our patients with advanced diagnostic tests, which allow our doctors to diagnose issues and diseases before any symptoms are present.

To put things into perspective in regards to technology, The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has now issued guidelines for cell phone use. Although the negative side effects of technology are slowly starting to be examined, there is still much research to be done to fully understand the long-term effects of it. Technology is a fantastic tool, but it is important users be educated on its proper use, or it can be detrimental to one’s health. Stay informed!


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