Can you wear glasses in VR: the ultimate guide to eyesight and virtual reality

Can you wear glasses in VR?

The ultimate guide to eyesight and virtual reality

Looking at buying a virtual reality headset and wondering; should I wear glasses in VR?

Virtual reality (VR) headsets became all the craze after they were released in 2016. Although their history goes much further back than that, 2016 is when we could buy and use headsets in our own homes.

While it’s been fun getting used to this new tech, it has proved a little more than problematic for the glasses-wearers of the world.

VR headsets sit snugly on your face with support straps on your temples and around your head. This can make it quite uncomfortable if you’re wearing glasses. Users report headaches and pain from the pressure of the mask which causes frames to dig in.

Luckily, over the past few years, we have found ways of making glasses and VR headsets more comfortable. You might even be surprised to learn that, depending on your prescription, you might not even need your glasses at all.

We take a look at the most commonly asked questions when it comes to wearing VR with glasses.

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Can you wear glasses in VR?

For the most part, yes. When wearing glasses with VR, most frames should safely fit. However, some larger frames might not be suitable. Before buying a headset, it’s best to measure the length and height of your frames. Then, compare the measurements of the headset you intend to buy. Most VR headsets are designed so that visually impaired people can wear glasses while using them. So, there’s no need to worry about wearing your frames.

How do you wear glasses in VR?

Before putting on the headset, make sure the straps are on the loosest setting. Then, slowly pull the straps to tighten around your head and glasses. You might need someone to help you with this. Make sure the headset feels secure around your face but isn’t causing your glasses to dig in. This could give you a headache after a while.

You may notice that your glasses wedge into the foam padding. This is okay as it will help to hold your glasses in place. Although, make sure there isn’t any pressure which could cause your glasses to bend or break.

How can you make wearing glasses in VR more comfortable?

A common problem for glasses wearers when using VR is the pressure of the headset. After a while, the headset can cause your glasses to dig into either the bridge of your nose or your temples. One way to combat this is to make sure the straps aren’t too tight around the side of your head and that you can comfortably get a finger underneath the straps.

Similarly, once you have the headset on and adjusted to your needs, try to push your glasses forward slightly using the temple tips. Throughout use, VR headsets can push your glasses back which causes pressure on your nose. By giving your glasses just a little more wiggle room, this can stop the nose pads or bridge of your glasses from causing irritation.

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How to wear glasses with Oculus Rift

Before using the Oculus Rift, it’s important to note that your frames should be no wider than 142mm and no taller than 50mm.

To put on the Oculus Rift, loosen the straps and move the on-ear headphones outwards. Then, starting from the front, put the headset on. Adjust as you see fit and move the on-ear headphones back to your ears. To take off, simply loosen the straps and using both hands pull the headset forwards slowly. Oculus Rift users are reminded to not let your glasses touch the screen lenses. This can cause scratches to occur.

Some users report taking off their glasses and fitting them into the mask first to be easier when putting the headset on. Glasses-wearers using an Oculus Rift should expect to get around 45 minutes of use before noticing any irritation.

As with most VR headset providers, glasses-wearers can buy prescription lens inserts as an attachment to the headset. These are quite costly but do eliminate the risk of damage to your glasses.


How to wear glasses with HTC Vive

Unlike the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive comes with two different padding masks. One provides extra comfort and the other provides more space. The manufacturer’s description says ‘most glasses fit inside the headset’ without any exact measurements.

However, users report that glasses need to be no wider than 152mm and 50mm in height. This would therefore be the better option for larger glasses wearers when compared to the Oculus Rift.

The HTC Vive also allows you to adjust the lens depth. This can allow more room for your glasses and an overall more pleasant and enjoyable experience.

How to wear glasses with Sony PlayStation VR

The Sony PlayStation VR is a great solution to the age-old question; can you wear VR with glasses?

Compared to other VR headsets, the Sony PlayStation VR is leaps ahead in terms of its usability for glasses-wearers. Where other VR headsets rely on straps around the top and side of your head, the PlayStation VR uses a ‘halo’ design. This means that the screen is extended away from the face and almost hangs in front of your eyes.

This means that there is relatively no pressure on your glasses and is far less likely to cause discomfort. However, users do report that the display can sometimes rest on your nose and cause pain during prolonged use.

In terms of putting the headset on, the Sony PlayStation VR is relatively easy. You will need to make sure that the halo is fully extended at the front and that the VR screen fits loosely over your glasses.

What are VR prescription lens inserts?

If you find wearing glasses too uncomfortable when using VR, you can always opt for prescription lens inserts. These are lenses made to your prescription that can be fitted inside the headset which eliminates the need for standard frames.

They look very similar to normal glasses except for the fact that these lenses are individual and separate, not joined together. This allows them to be clipped in and attached to the headset. No frames or arms are needed.

The curved side of the lens faces away from the screen and towards your eye. This is specially designed so that the lenses don’t get scratched by the screen which is more of a risk with a normal pair of glasses. All you need to do is twist the adaptors to secure them in place. There are marked guides, so you know you have installed them correctly.

The reason these can be useful is that they are manufactured in such a way that minimises distortion. The slight curve of the screen in the headsets can cause the image to look and feel off when paired with your prescription. The design of the lens inserts corrects this for a better VR experience and improves the FOV (field of vision).

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How do VR prescription lenses work?

VR prescription lenses aren’t like normal glasses. They are made specifically for use with VR.

When your eyes focus on something far away, this is called ‘infinity’. This means that the light rays are parallel, and your eyes are relaxed. If something moves closer to your eyes and you want to focus on it, the natural lens of your eye bends. This breaks the light differently to put that thing in focus.

Put your hand about 6 inches away from your face. Look into the distance and then look back at your hand. You’ll notice that your eyes naturally adapt to the light putting either the distance or your hand, in focus when you look at them.

Now, move your hand closer and closer to your face. You will reach a point where your lens can no longer bend to keep your hand in focus. It’s too close and it will look blurry.

It is because of this that VR headsets need special lenses for glasses-wearers. These lenses correct the light from the screen and make things that are close look farther away than they really are.

These lenses can be made to your exact prescription. This will make the visuals of the VR look and feel as though they do when you are wearing your normal glasses in the real world.

Currently, there are no such things as VR contact lenses. Normal contact lenses work perfectly fine.

Do near-sighted people need glasses or contacts in VR?

Everything you see in VR is as it would appear about two metres away from you in the real world.

Therefore, if you struggle to see things from two metres, you would need to wear glasses when using VR headsets. The screen may be a few inches from your face but the focal depth of the VR acts much the same as the real world.

As previously discussed, the issues with wearing glasses with VR headsets is the discomfort and likelihood of lens scratches to your glasses. Where possible, wearing contacts will always be the better option.

Why do I have to wear glasses in VR?

In terms of prescriptions, those with a -1.00 prescription may not need to wear their glasses or contacts. As an example, the Oculus Rift Rift’s visual acuity is around 23/100. Glasses-wearers with a prescription of -1.00 have visual acuity of 20/100. So, you can try with or without your glasses, it depends on what you find best.

If you have a -2.00 prescription, you will likely still need to wear your glasses. While you will still be able to see most things, you will notice a distinct lack of clarity and detail.

For those with anything more than a -3.00 prescription, you will definitely need some visual aid. Whether that be with your glasses, contact lenses or lens inserts, you won’t have an enjoyable experience without assistance from your prescription.

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Do long-sighted people need glasses or contacts in VR?

Generally speaking, people who are long or farsighted might not need to wear glasses with VR headsets. It all depends on what you are using the VR for. However, VR projects at a distance which should make the majority of VR experiences fine for long-sighted people.

Therefore, if you can see clearly from two metres and beyond, you shouldn’t need to wear your glasses with your VR headset. As a result, you also wouldn’t need contacts for VR either.

It is, of course, recommended that you take frequent breaks to avoid strain to your eyes.

Low Cost Glasses’ top tips for glasses and VR

While VR may be a breeze for those who don’t need glasses, there are a few things to consider if you do. Based on everything we know, here are Low Cost Glasses’ top tips for Wearing VR with glasses:

  • Make sure to measure your glasses before buying a headset.
  • Be careful when putting a headset on and adjust the straps to the loosest setting first.
  • Always put your headset on the mask first and adjust the straps as needed.
  • Push your glasses slightly forward using the temple tip to avoid stress and irritation on the nose.
  • Be mindful that wearing glasses with a VR headset puts your lenses at risk of scratches.
  • The Oculus Rift is great for smaller and medium-sized glasses.
  • The HTC Vive has more room for larger glasses.
  • Sony PlayStation VR is best for glasses-wearers who spend longer in VR.
  • If wearing glasses isn’t working for you, you can opt for prescription lens inserts. Lens inserts work by correcting the light from the screen to make things that are close look farther away.
  • Near-sighted prescriptions will nearly always need to use glasses when in VR.
  • Long or farsighted prescriptions will generally not need their glasses when in VR.
  • When possible, contacts are the best option for an overall seamless and enjoyable experience.

Do you currently use VR with your glasses? If so, what has your experience been like? Share your thoughts, comments and insights in the comments.