Virtual Reality headsets are now accessible to common people thanks to mass market products and ever progressing development in the technology. But a question of user safety is being asked often since the last few years. We will try to explain the potential side effects of the using VR headsets. Since the tech is new, we are still discovering the implications of long-term usage.
Here are some of the points of concern wrt using virtual reality headsets.
Almost every VR headset isolates the human eye from the surrounding light and forces them to view the lights coming out of the screens and lenses. The High Energy of the Visible rays (HEV) irritates the retina and the long-term exposure may even permanently damage the eyes.
The impact of HEV is determined by the duration of exposure, the brightness of the light, the contrast and the frequency of the light.
Most creators limit VR content to a maximum of 30 minutes. Limiting each session to half an hour has minimal impact of eyes. The brightness of the light emitted by the screen directly impacts your eyes. So, lower brightness is ideal. If the images have a big contrast, i.e. bright spots amid darkness, it is more hurtful to the eye.
Blue lights are hard on human eyes. It reduces melatonin secretion and makes it hard to sleep. People addicted to smartphone screen in the darkness have already experienced how tiring it is and how hard it is to sleep after watching the screen. This problem is magnified in a VR headset. It is best to choose a headset that does not throw off too much blue light.
Most of the issues related to HEV can be resolved by choosing a good headset and by restricting the amount of time spent in VR environment.
Apart from this, there are a few more things that can affect you while using VR headsets.
Nausea: one of the biggest complaints after using a VR headset is Nausea. It is caused because of the constant strain on your eyes as they work hard to correct the distortion presented by a severely limited field of view. Because of their extremely limited form factor, VR images suffer from severe distortion and it will take a lot of work in the hardware and software side to get rid of this problem.
Motion sickness: When you are immersed in the virtual world and it has motion, your brain is getting the motion signals although you are standing still. People who feel sick in a roller coaster ride will feel the same when using a VR headset.
Eye conditions: Although VR headset does not cause amblyopia, a condition where each eye has a different strength, if a user has the condition, he may not be able to perceive the VR experience as normal people do. In case they use prescription lenses to correct the problem, the user needs to keep them on when using the headset to enjoy the depth of 3D images.