Put on a headset and you can rock-climb. Or paint. It’s a hands-on experience in a Virtual Reality – or VR — world. But can it lead to real-life medical problems?
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports.
“I think digital eyestrain is a contemporary diagnosis that we are hearing more and more,” Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow of Illinois College Of Optometry.
Spending too much time focused on the world up-close in headsets, says Goodfellow, could potentially lead to headaches, blurred vision, nearsightedness or worse. Particularly in kids.
“What happens to children that use these devices now when they are seniors in life? Are there long-term effects? We don’t quite exactly know those,” he cautions.
Many headsets come with a safety warning: not for use by children under 13.
Still, some doctors are using goggles like these with children as part of vision therapy.
Seven-year-old Ashliana Nicholson dons VR goggles at her optometrist’s office to help treat amblyopia, or lazy eye. The condition was making it difficult for her to read.
Dr. David Maze uses the goggles as part of Ashliana’s therapy once a week for about 15 minutes each session. He says navigating the virtual world helps stimulate the brain to improve vision.
“We have to find a way to get that part of the brain that uses both eyes,” he says. “And virtual reality is a wonderful tool for that.”
Dr. Maze also believes there could be dangers down the road if the goggles are used by young children for hours at a time. But he says the fun of putting themselves in the game helps kids look forward to these treatment sessions.
After one year in therapy, Ashliana has a new reality when it comes to reading.