Virtual Reality Games May Be Harmful for Young Children’s Eyes

Gaming consoles take number one priority when considering digital entertainment for children. In an estimate, 26 % of all gamers are under the age of 18 years. Lack of moderation when playing these games is the reason why most parents visit optical centers to check the health of their young children’s eyes.

Some specialists suggest that video games improve:

  • a child’s reflexes,
  • vision contrast sensitivity
  • the ability to concentrate
  • hand-eye coordination
  • the speed of perception responses to visual stimuli
  • allow them to develop a more complete spatial visual memory

Virtual Reality Games

Coming from the era of smartphones and tablets, we have moved to a whole new level of virtual reality which offers an immersive experience or a hands-on three-dimensional experience. The excitement about virtual reality has led to the dawn of virtual reality games. This new world of computers and high-definition screens has brought a new threat on our eyesight. This has led to key manufacturers (Sony, Oculus Rift, Samsung, and HTC) setting age limits and also issuing warnings against allowing young children to use VR handsets. Our Eye Clinic in Millwoods is conveniently located on 50th Street off Whitemud Freeway.

Three optical safety concerns that ophthalmologists regard when it comes to gaming consoles:

  • The viewing angle
  • The distance between the screen
  • The maximum use per day

Optical Standards

The viewing angle and the shortest distance to the screen can negatively affect the vision of a child. According to specialists, children above the age of 12 should be given a maximum of 1 hour to use video gaming consoles, where else children below 12 years should play for a maximum of 30 minutes in a day.

When children look at something up-close, they are likely to lengthen their eye which leads to disorders like Nearsightedness, or myopia. This damage occurs when too much focus is placed on something near for a long period of time. Although the VR headset technology is more complex, the two inches’ distance from the screen should be a cause for concern.


Virtual reality games could adversely affect the sensory capability of a child, to judge depth by the use of stereopsis. If the visual images being presented by the VR headset is inconsistent then there is a risk of  your child developing motion sickness. According to specialists, motion sickness worsens with the proliferation of digital devices and displays. Functional vision problems and digital eye stains are closely linked to motion sickness.

The vergence-accommodation conflict developed by the use of VR headsets might affect how your children view the world after experiencing the illusion of depth. As nearsightedness is on the rise among young people, parents can prevent ocular stress in children by having their vision checked before school opens, and encourage 20-second breaks from screens every 20-30 minutes.

How you would know that Virtual reality games have affected young children’s eyes:

  • your child gets tired easily or gets irritated when doing tasks that require more visual concentration
  • your child is excessively sensitive to light
  • your child’s body gets stiff when trying to observe objects from afar
  • your child needs to follow the text with a finger when reading


Parental Responsibility  

Virtual reality games may be harmful to young children’s eyes. Therefore, they should be used under adult supervision. Doctors have warned that the use of virtual reality games may lead to disorientation and balance issues, so the chances of getting a temporary double vision in children are high. Parents are urged to exercise caution when they allow their children to use VR handsets. These devices are designed for adult use, so children who use them are prone to get amblyopia or potential lazy eye.

You should seek a specialist or an ophthalmologist advice if you notice the above abnormal behaviors on your child. We recommend regular checkup of your child’s visual health. Edmonton Vision Centre offers eye services. We also have qualified optometrists as well as prescription lenses, glasses, sunglasses and among others. Contact us and get a medical view, complex diagnoses and the right advice on the dangers of Virtual Reality Games


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