How do VR goggles affect eyesight?

Buzz is that VR (virtual reality) gaming is going to be big business in the coming future (if it isn’t already so in some parts of the world). I remember trying out a home grown VR gaming app for cricket. I saw myself in the middle of a cricket stadium.

Does that count as distance vision?


I’m pretty sure it does not, but I don’t know if enough research has been done on the subject to see the influence it has on the ocular muscles, and in the ciliary muscles specifically.

While VR does play tricks with your visual system to make it think it sees distance and perspective, your eyes are actually looking at things that are extremely close up. But maybe the VR system does a good enough job in tricking the visual cortex into believing it sees distance that it keeps the ciliary muscles from locking up.

Personally, I consider VR headset use as close-up vision time. I used to be very involved with a few VR projects but I’ve distanced myself from such things these days in an effort to avoid putting too much strain on my eyes.


It’s a good question. Maybe looking distance in the VR is close up for the eyes and distance for the brain? Or maybe it’s distance for both?

I’ve only used a VR once for 3 to 4 hours and at the end my eyes seemed without strain.

Edit: Only VR I’ve used is a oculus quest.

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VR headsets work with a lens system. Regardless of how close the screen in the actually to your eyes, you have to focus as if it would be in the distance, usually around 2-4 meters. So it should be comparable watching TV in that regard. Of course the question how losing periphery, having distortions because of the lens system, having much less light reaching your eye because of the closed headset affect things. But the distance itself should not be a problem.


That depends on the VR headset. If you’re using a Samsung Gear or Google Cardboard style headset, it’s just a phone placed into a headset to hold it a few inches from your eyes. If you’re using a proper VR headset then yeah there are lenses… in fact you may need to get prescription lenses for them if your eyesight is outside of the narrow range that is supported out of the box.

Most folks outside of game development and a niche group of early adopters don’t use the expensive high-end VR headsets though. Particularly when they can get the snap-in phone versions for about 10% of the cost. And the latter definitely would be considered close-up vision. The expensive VR headsets with lenses are closer to distance vision, but I still don’t know if it has the same value from an Endmyopia perspective.

The Samsung GearVR unit had an adjustment that adjusted the effective focus, so the view would project the phone from infinite (and beyond) to near (at least 5 diopers). When I used mine, I was able to adjust it to do VR with no glasses, which was really nice, as other VR units did not have that and were awkward to wear glasses and VR. One pair of my PC glasses ended up with lens scratching from using another VR unit as a result.

So it depends on the device, but the Samsung GearVR at least has a focus adjustment that lets you set the effective focus distance to anything you want. You could even set it to the edge of blur to practice active focus with if that is your thing :wink:

The phone based VR setups (or any other VR unit) would be next to useless if they did not have a lens to push the effective focus point back. The phone is physically about 5cm from the eye, thus would require 20 diopters of myopia/accommodation to bring to focus naked.
Such a requirement might limit the market for such devices a bit :wink:

That is interesting. If they use multiple lenses and are adjustable now, that is a big step up. Granted it has been years since I demoed the Samsung Gear VR headset adapter, which I assume was a first-generation or beta version since it was early to mid-2015 or so. The version I used did have simple convex lenses, but I don’t think they were adjustable and I assumed they were just there to make it possible to clearly see something that close. It was effectively a face-shaped plastic oval tube with an adapter at the far end where your phone (which only supported like a Galaxy S6 or something) could snap into it. The Google Cardboard VR unit is effectively the same thing, just made more cheaply and not tied to a specific phone so it could support more devices.

In any case, I don’t know if adding a few lenses to change the perceived focal length can really provide the same kind of visual experience that you would get with actual distance vision.

Most VR lenses are simple. They have distortions and chromatic aberrations, but the software adjusts the image to the inverse of that distortion and chromatic aberration, leading to a distortion-free, no false color view to the eye. It is quite clever, and lets the headset manufacturers use cheaper lenses :slight_smile: Quite clever, really.

I helped develop a VR game once, it was interesting to see what the screens actually displayed, vs what you see with your eyes.

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