Virtual Reality Might Make You Sick

by Rudra Mehta
Virtual Reality Might Make You Sick

February 1, 2021

Virtual Reality is all fun and games, until it gets to you, and gets you right where it hurts the most- your body is still not ready for VR.

Virtual Reality has been floating around for some time, and it is growing with every passing day in terms of capacity. Technology has come a long way for us to see new VR variants crop up, which will allow gamers and VR users to explore new avenues. But is VR all good? Does it not have any wrong aspect associated with it? You may think so, but that’s not the case.

Your Brain Can't Handle VR

Historically speaking, humans were always meant to be moving around. Not just geographically, but biologically, humans rely a lot on the motion to gauge their actions and surroundings. Having the ability to see, hear, feel and sense form images in our head and allow us to interact accordingly. So, what happens when you remove any of those elements?

It needs to be emphasized that VR is a foreign technology to our brain. It relies on creating a virtual world to give us the depth of perception and 3D Reality, which isn’t anything different from regular Screen gaming. The issue here is simulating the vision not at a distance but right in front of our faces.

This illusion of simulating distant objects at such a short distance from the eyes is the source of most issues. It is known as the vergence-accommodation conflict and affects every single individual in the long run. You are essentially tricking your brain into imagining a world in real space when it is all on a screen. Oh, you poor wrinkly thing.

Virtual Reality may make you sick.

The Physical Effects of Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality has short-term and long-term effects. Most symptoms seem to die down in a few minutes or hours and are generally physical. However, that does not rule out the chances of a permanent effect or injury to occur.

The most common ailment about Virtual Reality is a headache. Headaches and dizziness go hand in hand when using VR. Researchers argue that just 20 minutes of VR exposure can cause dizziness and headaches after finishing using the headsets. This arises from your eyes adjusting to the real world where objects are at an actual distance from you rather than all of them at the same place (the headset screen).

There are also concerns that consistent use of VR could accelerate myopia’s onset – short-sightedness – which has been predicted to affect one in three of the world’s population by 2022. Eye strain and eye pain are common issues faced after a binge session on your VR headset, for apparent reasons.

Dizziness is common after excessive use of VR.

No Damage to the Brain Though

However, no need to get out the tinfoil hats just yet as your brains are relatively safe from Virtual Reality. Most of the after-effects are temporary, and the effects are more psychological than mental. Surprisingly, memory is the most affected mental trait by VR. Your brain fails to create accurate memories from VR as there is no physical stimulus at all. This often leads to hallucinations.

VR players often complain of feeling “empty” or depressed after they stop playing on VR. This is often attributed to players experiencing withdrawal from the fantasy lands offered in VR and then returning to real life. Disorientation is also a familiar feeling as your mental facilities are not used to creating mental images from just visual input. If you’re running in VR but not in real life, your brain cannot comprehend that information and thus, stuff like balance and sense of direction get thrown out the window.

You become vulnerable to your surroundings too.

Lastly, your surroundings are also a threat. While you have your headset on, your location is a complete blind spot to you. Being aware of your immediate area is crucial to prevent any injuries. VR Gamers often forget where they are when playing, and we have enough shattered TVs, caved-in walls and broken furniture to provide proof. Although, humans crashing into humans has to be the funniest of them all.

Virtual Reality is still a relatively nascent technology and has so much more to offer. Abundant research is yet to be done and even more, studies to fully know the effects of VR on humans. Despite the health issues caused, VR is undoubtedly a useful technology to explore and an even more crucial area to perfect.

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