VR eye fatigue

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time in DiRT Rally 2.0, 100% in VR, specifically with my HP Reverb Pro with VR Optician prescription inserts. For instance, a few nights ago I drove 18 rally stages for the most part back to back. This took approximately 2.5 hours. Before @Mudcat launched the DR2 Mudspike rally league, I’d spent maybe 5 hrs in the driving sim. A month later and Steam says that I’ve spent 42 hours in mud, snow, a monsoon, and on tarmac.

For me using VR in driving sims has been a recent discovery and game changer, as it improves depth perception and enhances awareness of how the car reacts to driver input. That has not only lowered lap and stage times, but also amplified the so called suspension of realty. So much so, that my driving seat (rig) no longer has a 2D monitor. When I’m driving, I’m in VR.

But I’m beginning to worry a bit about my eyes. I don’t a history of eye problems, other than a mild bit of stigmatic shortsightedness. Lately, I’ve woken up the next day with irritated eyes, which I think is the best way to describe them. Sore with a little discharge in the corners. Anyway, since this is a relatively new phenomena, I’m beginning to think that this is related to using so much VR. Add a long work day in front of a bright 34" wide screen, possibly too bright, and I’m beginning to feel that my eyes are getting pumelled. Anyone else feel this way?

I found this interesting take on the issue from a purported computer vision scientist.



Well the thing gets warm and air circulation around the eyes is curtailed by the mask. That alone would account for some irritation.
Then there’s also the hurdle to rubbing your eyes, something I do a lot without being conscious of it. Can’t wipe out that dust mote or hair or whatever.
Of course we’re always doing something cool in VR. Something going fast, dangerous. One wrong move and it’s game over. So we stare intently at that little dot in the distance. Keep an eagle eye on those engine temperature needles. So you don’t blink enough. And the eye gets dry and irritated.

Last, the goggles simulate stereoscopic effects, but never perfectly. Making us look slightly cross-eyed and/or wall-eyed during VR sessions. And that combined with the above factors will duck you up. I know it has me.

I have to consciously take breaks from VR not to get crippling VR hangovers. Still. Worth it! :vr:


I’ve been using VR for about two years now. When I first got it I could easily spend 3 to 4 hours non stop without thinking about it but slowly I started getting headaches during the day. I wear glasses for reading and computer but don’t need any adjustment for VR (or maybe I do), the clarity is fine but perhaps my eyes are working too hard. I put my headaches down to VR and adjusted my time wearing it.
I still spend a long time in VR (flying and racing mainly) but I rarely go over an hour in one go and things have definitely improved.

In the Dirt Rally QL I normally do 2 or 3 stages and then stop because it’s enough for me but I have noticed most other people seem to bash the 12 stages out in one go. I doubt I could do that. Maybe have a few more breaks to give your eyes a rest, it works for me.

1 Like

Well, I spent about 8 months last year with 20/20 right eye 20/2500 in the left eye. This was a few months after getting my first VR rig (Odyssey+). Wondered about it. Turns out it was an infected gland in the eye socket.

How does this relate? Well, in the process Dry Eye syndrome came up; doc said I might not be blinking enough when wearing my VR thingy. Not sure about that. But I’m not a doctor, I just play one in my virtual Beech Bonanza!

BTW, I get kinda tired in VR after about 2 hours and it seems related to eye strain. Guess until they are ‘perfect’ it will always be an issue. The way I do the sim it’s almost like work anyway. But I like that. I’m weird.


Dry eye is a big part of why any screen gaming, VR or not - is straining. I had read online that when gaming we tend to stare, rather than look - meaning that we do not involuntarily blink as much if at all. Blinking helps moisturize the eyes. That’s part of the idea of looking away from the screen and blinking every so often - I find doing so late at night when my eyes feel really tired to be quite refreshing but it doesn’t remove the day’s work. At best it takes the “eyes falling asleep feeling” away until something else decides it’s bed time.

For you VR users, this may be even worse as you don’t get to look away from the screen - but you may not be staring either so I would be interested to hear what more from you guys on that too.

Perhaps see how taking breaks (between sorties or races) - headset off, look around the room, blink a bit etc, does for your endurance.


I have read this from a few sources as well. In front of monitors we tend not to blink as much as we do looking at anything else. In VR, I think that this is made somewhat worse but the enclosed environment and by the inability to look anywhere else: keyboard, desk, walls, whatever.

I am trying to force myself to blink more but when I get focused, it is very, very challenging.

I don’t have VR - but I do have glasses / contacts and a desk job - a couple of things to add to above.

Funnily enough, staying well hydrated will help with dry eyes - and I do suspect some of the noted symptoms are related to dry eyes, although I think there are a few factors at play. I use moisturizing eye drops during the day when I wear contacts - those help too, although they are surely a Band-Aid rather than helping the eyes recover properly.

There’s also the muscular strain caused by focusing to a set distance for long periods of time.

There are eye exercises for computer users that you can do, which do help some - but actually relaxing the eyes by looking into the distance (beyond focus distance) seems to be the best way for me - i.e. go for a walk / run outside. Without glasses works best for me, even though things are very soft focused…an hour of that and my eyes feel refreshed.

Sore / tight neck and shoulder area can also affect blood flow to the head and eyes.

Above all, I suspect VR is like anything…do it too much in one sitting and it’s not good for you. :slight_smile: When it starts to feel wrong and doesn’t bounce back, cut back, listen to your body, let it recover.


I once read that real Rally drivers have the same problem. Some of them blink very rarely during stages.

So… yeah, that’s kinda realistic.

1 Like

Interesting this thread popped up. Since this whole shelter in place stuff started happening, I’ve found myself a lot more in VR than usual between Iracing, ETS2 and DCS World (although not as much in the last one due to 2.5.6 issues, but I digress…). Anywho, last night was the first time in probably a few weeks where I just didn’t feel like putting the headset on and my eyes felt tired so I went back to my triple 27" monitor setup for doing some driving at Nurburing in Iracing.

My eyes did feel more rested after running the monitors for a few hours. (Yes, I’m terrible at Nurburing so it takes me that long to complete a lap without crashing myself to bits.) Not sure if that was due to better color, better refresh rate (90 vs. 144), the ability to look away from the image or the fact that I don’t have a heat source directly strapped to my eyes.

Two things that I definitely disliked on my time with the monitors compared to VR. 1.) Having to look through the bezels where the monitors overlap 2.) the sense of elevation change wasn’t nearly as thrilling.

1 Like

It could be the game as well. I’ve seen some of you complain elsewhere that DiRT can task even the best systems. On the other extreme I have been flying VR EVEN MORE than my already too-high daily fix. My recent Condor 2 addiction is to blame. But Condor 2 runs like a dream. No clutter. No fuss. Hardly even a GUI. And liquid smooth. So, it offers nothing close to the sophistication of a big title like DiRT. I can fly 4 hours straight and so far no ill effects. The RiftS has plenty of space to peak around the nose. This might help with air circulation. It also makes grabbing the occasional sip easy without the need to move the headset.

DCS on the other hand, I do in small doses. The jittery performance in multiplayer makes anything past half an hour uncomfortable–not eye-strain so much as just general frustration.

1 Like

Funny that you should mention it, but Condor 2 has given me no eye strain or headaches in VR, even after 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted use. I normally wouldn’t spend more than an hour in VR without wanting to at least take a break. I still wish the Rift S had mechanical IPD adjustment though.


When I went for my flying medical last year I noticed a serious reduction in my right eyes performance. This sudden drop coincides with my VR goggles coming. I honestly dont know if there is a correlation between the 2 things as I’m 34 now and at the age where eyesight starts its gradual degradation anyway but I’ve always had better than 20 20 eyesight and I havent now.
If I’m honest I really think it’s the VR but I have no proof except a gut feeling

If you were immune to eyes aging, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it start now. I always had 20/20 in my right eye up until about grade 11 when it dropped to about 20/30. It stayed there another four years or so and dropped a bit more. That prescription lasted until early 2020.

I think the longer it holds off, the potentially more dramatic it can be when it does start. For a counter example, my brother has had atrocious vision since his early teens and it hasn’t much if at all changed since.


For me correct IPD seems to be the key.
My eyes tended to get really tired and gravelly, back when I had the Rift S, after just 30 min. or so in VR.
Now, with the Index, and correct physical IPD set, I feel no ill effects at all in my eyes, even after extended 2+ hour stints. However, the rest of the old carcass usually begins to protest around the 2 hour mark, especially standing VR.


Agreed. It usually runs fine in VR, until the weather is bad. In heavy rain even with my system running @ 4.8 GHz and an RTX 2080i it appears to be sub 10 fps. I’ve tinkered with the settings a bit, but not been able to get something that was acceptable in heavy rain. Light rain is OK. Light rain at night and the FPS start to drop off. I looked at WRC 8 as an alternative, but it doesn’t support VR!

But in my case, it’s not a matter of headaches or nausea. Rather, dry, irritated eyes. I also had tear duct blockage on my right eyelid, something that I’d never had before. I resolved it with a warm, damp, lightly soaped washcloth. I’m thinking that the wide screen for work during the day and VR at night is taking a toll.

Interesting. considers mounting a monitor to driving rig

Ha. Know the feeling, but in my case it’s like prying an oyster out of its shell.