Are they any possible long-term effect of virtual reality?
When any new user interface technology comes out, one of the most important questions that follow it is its user safety. Irrespective of how wonderful the new tech is, if it badly influences user’s health, it will not see success and it may even face serious litigations for endangering user’s health.
Virtual reality is one such tool that has amazing capabilities and has already shown to have a few important side effects. But are these effects short term? Will there be a lasting effect on human eyes because of this simulated reality? These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this article.
What is affected by VR?
Even casual users of VR know their sense of balance gets affected after a round of their favourite VR exploration. That is because the brain receives signals of movement even when the user’s body is at rest. This miscommunication temporarily disrupts the VR users’ balance. But our brain learns and readapts and regains the balance within a few minutes.
In some people, this misfiring of signals results in motion sickness, which is symptomatically similar to seasickness.
VR headsets can also cause Vertigo in some people due to a difference in depth perception when the lenses are not calibrated correctly. The problem goes away once the right setup is achieved.
VR is also notorious for causing nausea when the system is used for a longer duration. The symptoms may not present themselves while using the VR and often comes as a surprise.
But in most of these cases, the symptoms go away soon after a user stops using the VR headset or if they take the suggested precautions.
But there is one issue that could have a long-term impact on the user’s eye. Blue Light/High-Energy Visible (HEV) that is emitted from VR screens may permanently damage the iris. This risk can be effectively avoided by sticking to branded and well-tested headsets and not opting for cheap Chinese brands. Most of the top of the line VR headsets deal with this problem using technology to protect their users from the effects of HEV.
Several universities and even VR companies are conducting long-term studies into the effects of VR. Oculus, the leading VR brand is conducting a lot of research in the field to make sure VR will be safe for the users in the decades to come.
Their website lists several issues that may arise from the extended use of VR headsets. There is one challenge called the ‘vergence-accommodation conflict’ which is one of the main reasons for eye strain. Oculus and other VR headset makers are trying hard to resolve this issue so that VR users can avoid the eye strain that accompanies every session of a game. As an important safety measure, have an adult watch you while you play with VR, This ensures you don’t accidentally trip or fall over objects around the room.
With a few simple precautions, your VR experience can be injury prone and the side effects contained.