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Effects of Virtual Reality on Human Health

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The emerging world of virtual reality is not only providing a new, fully immersive experience, but it also creates new ways for people to see the world. Today the technology of virtual reality (VR) is used to advance medicine, engineering, education, architecture, training and entertainment. Specifically, this technology is the use of computer machinery to create a simulated environment unlike the old traditional user interfaces. This action places the users inside an experience where instead of viewing a screen in front of them, they are addicted and able to cooperate with 3D worlds. Despite some of the advantages of using this technology, VR causes serious effects on people health. Health risks may occur when people are involved in a fully imagined world, possibly affecting their physical and emotional health. There are many effects of using this technology, but the following can be distinguished as the most important: nausea, loss of spatial awareness, dizziness and disorientation and the last one Eye Soreness. Because of these effects most of the virtual reality headsets makers have recommend taking at least a 10 to 15 minutes break every 30 minutes when you are using this technology, even if you don’t think you need it. This essay will examine the effects of using virtual reality (VR) on human health.

One of the negative effects that virtual reality (VR) causes is loss of spatial awareness. In every guide to get started with VR, step number one is always to make sure the environment around you is clear of any chairs, wires, animals, little kids or other items you might move on, crash into or knock over. This is very important for full-room VR experience, but also the same if you are using stationary or seated game. The problem is that a lot of people tend to forget about the little objects around them that might cause them to fall over. Spending longer than the required 30 minutes in VR can cause you to lose spatial awareness of the space around you in almost every case. Likewise, it’s much harder to identify where things are in the physical world, from inside your headset, after 30 minutes. Spatial awareness is also related to the brain and can have side effects on it.

Another problem caused by virtual reality is eye soreness and trouble focusing. Short-term eye strain is very common while in VR, and very close to the feeling of looking too long at a computer screen or TV. Eye strain can occur whenever you focus for an extended amount of time on one object, such as watching a long film or staring at your computer or smartphone all day. There are two small LCD monitors in VR headsets, each projected at one eye, which creates a stereoscopic effect that gives users the illusion of depth. The best advice is to pay attention to warnings that come with VR headsets, limit time spent in the virtual world, and ensure all users have regular comprehensive eye examinations with an optometrist to ensure eye health and contribute to overall health. In the real world, as we look at it, our eyes need to concentrate and converge on a space-point. Meanwhile in virtual space, our eyes are always centered on a fixed point when seeking to converge or diverge to objects that appear near or far away. For example, the brain adapts to the limitations of the VR environment while playing a VR game, and starts to anticipate it. Once the user gets out of the simulation, they need to re-adapt their brain. During this adaptation period, users can reach past things for which they are reaching because the VR experience has changed their perception of objects at a given distance. Humans have a field of view of 200 degrees and peripheral vision of 60 degrees, and currently most VR headsets only have 35 degrees, so when this technology improves to 60 degrees field of view it will become more natural and will eliminate eye strain.

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As another effect of virtual reality is nausea. VR is well known to cause nausea, mostly because it is related to motion sickness and the speed of objects in the game you are playing. The realistic virtual movements can influence the perception of time and space by a person and can contribute to exhaustion, nausea or dizziness. Scientists believe that technology will cause nausea when users turn their heads, for example, and the virtual images don’t keep up. This can be connected to another condition known as cyber sickness (CS). CS is a constellation of discomfort and malaise symptoms created by exposure to VR. In the real world, all of the senses work synchronously to take in feedback from the world around you, and usually agree with each other. But in VR or while watching a 3D movie, your eyes and ears take in experiences that are not in harmony with your other senses. This lack of agreement between the senses begins to make you feel sick after a long period of time.

Dizziness and disorientation can be listed as another effect of this technology. Disorientation among VR users varies quite widely. This feeling can happen to anyone that has not taken a break in a while, but those who are susceptible to motion sickness or vertigo are far more likely to experience intense disorientation while using this technology. Games involving jumping, high-speed running, heights and falling are known to cause serious disorientation and should be avoided by anyone prone to this kind of reaction. Dizziness and disorientation are considered as an effect on people health because it is difficult to stay aware of the people, objects and also architecture around you mainly by cause of blocking the both vision and sound by the virtual reality headsets.

To summarize, virtual reality is arguably the next footstep towards a modern/post-modern era of development, mainly because of the ability to save lives, to be a part of business development and the part in which is mostly dangerous – entertainment, by providing its users with endless hours of fun but also learning. Despite this, virtual reality has many negative effects on human health.

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Effects of Virtual Reality on Human Health. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/effects-of-virtual-reality-on-human-health/
“Effects of Virtual Reality on Human Health.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/effects-of-virtual-reality-on-human-health/
Effects of Virtual Reality on Human Health. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/effects-of-virtual-reality-on-human-health/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
Effects of Virtual Reality on Human Health [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/effects-of-virtual-reality-on-human-health/
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