I had an interesting question the other day – “Are there any known health/ medical complications from using VR and headsets”. This is one I had to research so thought I would put up some of my findings.
This is by no means a full investigation and mainly reference other articles, but makes for an interesting topic so I’ll use the TL;DR title as there is a lot of info here.
Firstly a definition – xR refers to the various types of Reality available
- Virtual Reality
- Augmented Reality
- Mixed Reality
Secondly – Everyone is different and xR may affect a person different ways if at all
Thirdly – I’m not trying to put anyone off using or trying an xR platform in any way.
Important note though – some if not all makers of xR equipment don’t recommend anyone with epileptic conditions or special sensitivities use headsets. You should check that vendors product details for further information on this.
If you Google (other search engines are available Virtual Reality Medical Complications then a fair few hits come back, but a lot less for Augmented and Mixed if any.
In Augmented and true Mixed Reality, you can see the real world and overlay virtual things on it. As the body can still see the real world it knows the effects are much less than putting a headset on and being immersed in a completely virtual world.
Everyone is different whilst some will feel no effect, some may. A Business Insider article on the subject list the possible side effects as:
- Loss of Spatial Awareness
- Dizziness and Disorientation
- Seizures (don’t use if you have an epileptic condition or special sensitivities)
- Eye Soreness and Trouble Focussing
For me these will depend on :
- Type of headset used
- Duration of session
- How person adapts to using the device
Will depend on a persons eyesight and prescriptions if any for lenses. It will depend on the headset used as to if it adjusts automatically for the users eyes or glasses are needed inside the headset. Some headsets you can get prescription lenses for.
There are stories and articles around the internet about VR Sickness and it does have its own Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality_sickness)
Recent article on Medium.com https://medium.com/s/greatescape/when-working-in-virtual-reality-makes-you-sick-795a61f5e5dc
Motion sickness can be a factor – http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150814-the-search-for-an-effective-cure-for-motion-sickness
“Last year, a team led by Bethann Hromatka, a biomedical scientist at genetics company 23andMe looked across the entire human genome to see which genetic changes might increase a person’s likelihood of becoming motion sick. The research, published in Human Molecular Genetics, found links between motion sickness and genes involved with balance, eye, ear, and cranial development. In other words: motion sickness seems to be very much hereditary.”
The longest video game marathon in Virtual Reality at this time is held by Jack McNee in Australia who on the 2nd April 2017 played for 36 Hours, 2 Minutes and 16 Seconds. (don’t try this one at home!).
Although I’ve yet to see the results of a full medical study into the effects of Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality to form an opinion.
When using xR you should check:
- Does anyone have any epileptic condition or special sensitivities
- First time you put the headset on if you feel strange take it off. Try again in a few mins.
- Take regular breaks