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Can Virtual Reality Make You Sick?

Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting technology that has been gaining popularity over the past few years. It is a computer-generated environment that simulates a user’s physical presence and allows them to interact with a three-dimensional world. However, as much as VR is exciting, it has also raised concerns about its potential effects on human health. In this article, we will examine the possible ways that VR can make you sick and how to avoid it.

Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive technology that is becoming increasingly popular in various fields, from gaming to therapy. While the dizzying experience of entering a new digital realm can be thrilling, some users might experience discomfort or nausea when using VR. This leads to the question, can virtual reality make you sick? In this discussion, we will explore the reasons why VR can cause motion sickness, ways to prevent it, and potential solutions to this problem.

Understanding Virtual Reality Sickness

Virtual reality sickness is a term used to describe various symptoms that occur when using VR headsets. It is similar to motion sickness, which some people experience when traveling by car, boat, or plane. Symptoms of VR sickness include nausea, dizziness, headaches, eye strain, and fatigue. These symptoms can occur within minutes or hours of using VR and can last for several hours.

Causes of Virtual Reality Sickness

The main cause of VR sickness is a mismatch between the user’s visual and vestibular systems. The visual system perceives motion, while the vestibular system perceives balance and motion. When these two systems conflict, the brain becomes confused, leading to VR sickness. Other factors that contribute to VR sickness include frame rate, field of view, and latency.

Frame Rate

The frame rate is the number of frames per second that a VR headset displays. A low frame rate can cause motion sickness, especially when the user is moving quickly. A high frame rate of at least 90 frames per second is recommended to minimize the risk of VR sickness.

Field of View

The field of view is the extent of the visible world that a VR headset covers. A narrow field of view can cause VR sickness because it limits the user’s peripheral vision. A wider field of view of at least 100 degrees is recommended to reduce the risk of VR sickness.


Latency is the delay between the user’s movement and the VR headset’s response. High latency can cause VR sickness because it disrupts the user’s sense of presence in the virtual world. A low latency of less than 20 milliseconds is recommended to minimize the risk of VR sickness.

Who Is at Risk of Virtual Reality Sickness?

Not everyone who uses VR experiences sickness. However, some people are more susceptible to VR sickness than others. Factors that increase the risk of VR sickness include age, gender, health status, and previous experience with VR.

Key takeaway: Virtual reality sickness is caused by a mismatch between the visual and vestibular systems, and can be minimized by choosing a VR headset with a high frame rate, wide field of view, and low latency. Taking breaks and acclimating to VR gradually can also help reduce the risk of sickness. Certain factors such as age, gender, health status, and previous experience with VR can also increase the susceptibility to sickness.


Children under the age of 12 are more prone to VR sickness because their visual and vestibular systems are still developing. Older adults may also be at risk of VR sickness because of age-related changes in their sensory systems.


Women are more likely to experience VR sickness than men. The reason for this is not clear, but it may be related to differences in the structure and function of the brain.

Health Status

People with pre-existing medical conditions such as migraines, epilepsy, or inner ear disorders may be more susceptible to VR sickness. Medications that affect the vestibular system can also increase the risk of VR sickness.

Previous Experience with VR

People who are new to VR may be more prone to VR sickness than those who have used it before. This is because first-time users need time to adjust to the sensory input provided by VR.

How to Avoid Virtual Reality Sickness

There are several ways to reduce the risk of VR sickness. These include choosing the right VR headset, adjusting the settings, taking breaks, and acclimating to VR gradually.

Choosing the Right VR Headset

When choosing a VR headset, consider factors such as frame rate, field of view, and latency. A headset with a high frame rate, wide field of view, and low latency is recommended to minimize the risk of VR sickness.

Adjusting the Settings

Adjusting the settings of the VR headset can also help reduce the risk of VR sickness. For example, reducing the brightness and contrast of the display, turning off motion blur and other visual effects, and adjusting the IPD (interpupillary distance) can all help reduce the risk of VR sickness.

Taking Breaks

Taking breaks can also help reduce the risk of VR sickness. It is recommended to take a break every 20-30 minutes to rest your eyes and regain your sense of balance.

Acclimating to VR Gradually

Acclimating to VR gradually can also help reduce the risk of VR sickness. Start with short VR sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the experience over time.

FAQs for the topic: Can Virtual Reality Make You Sick

What is Virtual Reality motion sickness?

Virtual Reality (VR) motion sickness is characterized by a range of symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, and disorientation, that can occur when using virtual reality headsets during video games or other applications. The disorientating effects of this technology can lead some people to experience varying levels of discomfort or sickness, which may prevent them from being able to use VR equipment for extended periods of time.

How does Virtual Reality motion sickness occur?

Virtual Reality motion sickness occurs when there is a disconnect between what the eyes see and what the inner ears perceive. When an individual moves in real life, their eyes, and inner ears communicate with the brain to interpret the movement. In contrast, when individuals put on a VR headset, the eyes perceive motion, but the inner ear cannot detect the movements accurately or is entirely static, causing motion sickness.

Who is at risk of experiencing virtual reality motion sickness?

While anyone can experience VR motion sickness, some people may be more susceptible than others. The individual’s physical, ergonomic, environmental, and psychological factors are likely to have an impact on their risk. For instance, individuals who have a history of motion sickness or vestibular disorders, or old age, have an increased risk of experiencing it.

What can be done to prevent Virtual Reality motion sickness?

Prevention of VR motion sickness involves a few simple techniques. Firstly, it is essential to use the VR headsets correctly and ensure they fit correctly. Secondly, users should take breaks often and limit their session intervals. Users should also ensure that their environment is well-lit, and they have a clear view of their actual surroundings to help them keep track of their physical position. Lastly, using VR equipment that has a low latency, a high resolution, and a high refresh rate is less likely to cause motion sickness.

What should I do if I start to feel VR motion sickness?

If an individual begins to feel sick or dizzy while using virtual reality equipment, they should take the headset off immediately and stop using it. It is essential to take a break, walk around, and get some fresh air, allowing the symptoms to diminish before re-attempting. If the symptoms persist, it is best to see a doctor before trying again. Generally, it is best to use the equipment for shorter periods and in conjunction with other accessories designed to mitigate motion sickness, such as fresh, cool air or anti-nausea medication.

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