3D Virtual Reality Gaming: Harmless Fun or Hazardous to Our Eyesight?

Today virtual reality games are no longer just a feature of speculative science fiction. In fact, users controlling a video game with nothing more than eyesight is now a reality thanks to advances in technology. But could these innovations be harmful to our health?

Recently, a video depicting a fan-made virtual reality video game appeared on YouTube, showing a user playing from the point of view of classic game star Sonic the Hedgehog. A Daily Mail report referred to the video game as “stomach-churning” with its multiple loops and jumps. By using Sonic GDK, a collection of source codes, users can develop their own 3D platform video games based on classic Sonic titles.

YouTube uploader Chadtronic, who created the video, paired his fan-made Sonic the Hedgehog game with the Oculus Rift headset, a device that allows for this type of virtual reality gaming. Oculus Rift’s makers, Oculus VR, promise “ultra-low latency 360° head tracking,” allowing the user to view the virtual world just as they would observe reality and control the game with nothing more than a slight head movement.

Yet with the Oculus Rift’s 3-dimensional and ultra-wide view, gamers could be putting themselves at risk for a variety of vision problems. According to Statistic Brain, the total percentage of American adults now using some form of corrective lenses is at least 75% or three-quarters of the population. Conditions and eye infections such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts affect millions of adults in the U.S., and those numbers may increase thanks in part to our time spent in front of television and computer screens.

As emerging technologies such as 3D increase their presence in our daily lives, optometrists and ophthalmologists may be seeing an influx of patients as well.

However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t all indulge occasionally in the latest gadgets and games. Both casual and diehard gamers should take regular breaks away from the screen, and if necessary, impose a time limit to avoid playing for too long.

Technological advancements can be exciting, and finding new ways to bring back beloved video game characters like Sonic could even mean fun for the whole family. When it comes to anything affecting vision, however, be sure to heed the warning labels, or you might literally risk losing sight of reality.

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