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Warning: Virtual reality may not be just "harmless" fun. Some of us, it seems, can suffer adverse side effects like blurred vision and headaches because we cannot visually adapt to the virtual environment.
That's one of the key findings in a study in the September 1999 issue of Optometry and Vision Science, published by the St. Louis-based American Optometric Association.
"The basic difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals seems to be that the asymptomatic individuals are able to quickly and easily visually adapt to the VR HMD [virtual reality head-mounted display] environment, which is very different from the real world visual environment," explains Stephen E. Morse, OD, PhD, one of the authors of the study. "Clearly, the symptomatic subjects experience severe mismatches between what the eyes are telling them and what the rest of their sensory systems and the brain are telling them."
The inability of the eyes to adapt in VR results not only in visual complaints like blurred vision and headaches, but also in general body complaints like nausea, sweating, and disorientation, says Morse.