Virtual reality, or VR, as it is popularly known, has become all the rage in today’s progressive tech-obsessed world. The genius of this phenomenon is that it allows users to experience interactive computer-generated scenarios by engaging visual, auditory and other sensory perceptions in an immersive digital environment.
The evolution of virtual reality is reaching many different areas and platforms today, ranging from augmented reality systems on smartphone devices, video gaming technology, the theme park industry to the glitzy world of online gambling. These platforms make it possible for users to experience thrilling scenarios in the comfort of home or at their favourite attractions with just the click of a button, providing them with stimulating three-dimensional experiences.
However, as with all technology, virtual reality also presents urgent health concerns that all users should pay close attention to. The most apparent effect has to do with sight and awareness, as users are essentially blind to the physical world whilst wearing a VR headset and engaging with the virtual world. Serious injuries (such as broken limbs) have been reported from users bumping into and tripping over objects as a direct result from wearing the equipment.
Another common health issue caused by the continued use of virtual reality is symptoms similar to motion sickness. This condition has become known as ‘virtual reality sickness’ or ‘cybersickness’ and is brought about by the sensory-induced perception of self-motion, causing users to experience nausea, disorientation, headaches, drowsiness and general discomfort. A variety of serious and permanent conditions can also be induced by the use of VR technology; prolonged use can hinder the growth of the eye and cause nearsightedness.
Manufacturers of VR technology recommend a 10- to 15-minute break for every 30 minutes of usage to prevent any potential health issues from occurring. Users with certain pre-existing medical conditions, such as pregnancy and heart conditions, are encouraged to consult professional advice before making use of the technology.