Does Virtual Reality Cause Headaches? Exploring VR Effects




Does Virtual Reality Cause Headaches


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Does virtual reality cause headaches? This has been a common query for those who have ventured into the immersive realm of VR gaming and exploration. Given the ever-evolving nature of virtual reality, it is important to be aware of its potential impacts on our physical well-being.

In this blog post, we will explore the possible reasons behind headaches experienced during or after using VR headsets.

Does Virtual Reality Cause Headaches
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What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is like a magic portal that transports you to a computer-generated world. With a VR headset and controllers, you can interact with this world as if you were really there. VR has revolutionized industries like gaming, education, healthcare, and entertainment.

The objective of virtual reality is to generate a feeling of being present by stimulating the senses with realistic visuals and audio. Advances in tech have enabled VR to become more realistic than ever before.


Gaming is one of the biggest adopters of VR technology. Games like Beat SaberRobo Recall, and Half-Life: Alyx offer players an unparalleled level of immersion into their virtual worlds.


VR is enhancing learning experiences for students by providing interactive simulations that help them better understand complex concepts or historical events.


Medical professionals use VR for training purposes or even during surgeries to provide precise visualizations of patients’ anatomy without invasive procedures.


From movies to concerts, consumers can now enjoy their favorite content from the comfort of their homes while feeling like they’re partaking in live events thanks to virtual reality experiences.

Though VR offers many advantages, there are worries that extended use could lead to adverse effects. One such concern is whether or not VR can cause headaches. In this blog post, we will explore this issue in detail and provide tips on how to minimize discomfort while using VR technology.

“Experience a new world with virtual reality. Learn about its benefits and how to avoid headaches while using it in our latest blog post. #VR #technology #immersion”Click to Tweet

Does Virtual Reality Cause Headaches?

Virtual reality (VR) is all the rage these days, but some users have reported headaches after using VR technology. So, what’s the deal? While there’s no definitive answer, several factors can contribute to discomfort and headache symptoms for some individuals.

Studies have indicated that extended immersion in virtual worlds could be responsible for a condition similar to motion sickness, called “cybersickness.” This may cause sensations of dizziness, nausea and headaches. Symptoms of cybersickness include dizziness, nausea, and yes – headaches. The severity of cybersickness symptoms may depend on the quality and duration of exposure to virtual environments, as well as individual susceptibility.

  • Motion Sickness: Some people are more prone to motion sickness than others, which can lead to headaches when using VR devices.
  • Eyestrain: Prolonged use of any screen-based device can cause eyestrain-related headaches, including VR headsets where your eyes focus on nearby screens for extended periods.
  • Poorly Designed Content: Low-quality graphics or poorly designed content can exacerbate visual discomfort during a virtual reality session, leading to potential headache triggers.

Individuals with pre-existing conditions like migraines or light sensitivity may be more prone to headaches while using VR technology.

A 2018 study found that approximately 25% of participants experienced some form of discomfort after using a VR headset, with headaches being the most common symptom. However, not all users will experience headaches or other adverse effects when using virtual reality devices.

As technology advances and developers continue to improve both hardware and software aspects of VR systems, there is potential for reduced instances of headache-inducing stimuli in future iterations. For example, newer headsets with higher refresh rates and better motion tracking can help minimize issues related to motion sickness and visual discomfort.

In summary, while there isn’t a definitive answer on whether virtual reality causes headaches for everyone who uses it, certain factors such as individual susceptibility, duration of use, and quality of content being viewed can contribute towards an increased likelihood of experiencing this side effect during their time spent immersed within these digital worlds.

Key Takeaway: 

Virtual reality (VR) can cause headaches for some users due to factors such as cybersickness, motion sickness, eyestrain, and poorly designed content. Individual susceptibility and pre-existing conditions like migraines or photophobia can also play a role. However, newer technology advancements may help minimize these issues in future VR systems.

How to Reduce the Risk of Headaches from Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) can be a headache-inducing experience for some users. But fear not, here are some tips to help you enjoy VR without the discomfort:

Adjust Your Headset Properly

Ensure your headset is snug yet not overly tight, with the weight evenly dispersed over both your forehead and cheeks. An improperly fitted headset can put pressure on certain areas of your head, leading to headaches.

Maintain Good Posture

Try to keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed while using a VR system. Poor posture can strain muscles in the neck and upper back area, which might contribute to headache pain.

Take Regular Breaks

Prolonged exposure to virtual environments may lead to eye strain or motion sickness that could trigger a headache. Taking regular breaks every 30 minutes or so will help alleviate this issue.

Avoid Intense Content

If you’re prone to motion sickness or have experienced headaches from other forms of digital media, consider avoiding intense VR experiences that involve rapid movement or disorienting visuals.

Familiarize Yourself with Game Controls

This will allow you more control over navigation within a virtual environment, which helps reduce feelings of nausea caused by unexpected movements.

Additional Tips for Developers

Developers can design their games/apps better suited for reducing potential discomfort by:

  • Implementing comfort settings: Developers can include options like snap turning, teleportation, or adjustable movement speeds to cater to individual preferences and reduce the risk of motion sickness.
  • Optimizing performance: A smooth-running VR experience with high frame rates and minimal latency is essential for preventing headaches. Developers should optimize their software to ensure a seamless experience on various hardware configurations.
  • Designing user-friendly interfaces: Clear and easy-to-navigate menus will help users feel more comfortable in virtual environments, reducing the likelihood of disorientation-induced headaches.

If you continue experiencing headaches despite following these tips, consider consulting a healthcare professional. They may be able to identify any underlying issues that could be contributing to your discomfort while using VR technology. Additionally, keep an eye out for new developments in the field as companies are constantly working on improving user experiences by addressing potential health concerns related to virtual reality usage.

Key Takeaway: 

To avoid headaches while using virtual reality, adjust your headset properly, maintain good posture, take regular breaks and avoid intense content. Developers can also implement comfort settings, optimize performance and design user-friendly interfaces to reduce potential discomfort. If you continue experiencing headaches despite following these tips, consider consulting a healthcare professional.

Potential Causes of Headache from Virtual Reality

Despite its appeal, virtual reality can be a source of discomfort for some users, such as through the experience of headaches. Here are some potential causes of VR-induced headaches:

Motion Sickness

When what you see in VR doesn’t match what you feel, it can lead to motion sickness, dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Motion sickness is a real thing, folks.

Poor Ergonomics

Wearing an ill-fitting VR headset can put pressure on your face and head, leading to tension headaches. So, adjust that thing properly for your own comfort.


Staring at a display for too long can lead to eye fatigue. In VR, this is compounded by rapidly changing visuals and inaccurate depth perception. Take care of those peepers.

  • Brightness: High screen brightness levels might strain your eyes over time.
  • Flickering Images: Rapidly changing images could tire out eye muscles more quickly than normal viewing conditions.
  • Inaccurate Depth Perception: If depth perception isn’t accurately represented in the virtual environment, it can cause eyestrain as your eyes struggle to focus.

Dehydration and Fatigue

Take regular pauses, keep hydrated, and get adequate rest to avoid dehydration-induced headaches and fatigue from VR. Dehydration and fatigue are known headache triggers, and VR can be exhausting.

Sensitivity to Visual Stimuli

Some people are more sensitive than others to certain visual stimuli in VR. For example:

  • Blinking Lights: Rapidly blinking lights could trigger migraines or tension headaches in some users.
  • Rapid Motion: Fast-paced movement through a virtual environment might induce motion sickness-related headaches.
  • Noise Sensitivity: Loud noises from headphones during gameplay could contribute to headache development for those with noise sensitivity issues.

By understanding these potential causes of VR-induced headaches and taking steps to mitigate them, you can enjoy immersive experiences without the pain.

Key Takeaway: 

Virtual reality can cause headaches due to motion sickness, poor ergonomics, eyestrain, dehydration and fatigue, and sensitivity to visual stimuli. To prevent this from happening, users should adjust their headset properly for comfort, take breaks when necessary, stay hydrated and rested while playing VR games.

Long-Term Effects of Virtual Reality on Health

Given the potential long-term health risks associated with VR, let’s explore some of them in more detail. Let’s dive into some of the risks:

Visual Strain and Eye Fatigue

Staring at VR screens for too long can cause visual strain and eye fatigue. To avoid this, take breaks and follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes in VR, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Balance Issues and Dizziness

VR can mess with your balance and make you dizzy. This disorientation can persist even after removing the headset. Be aware of these risks when designing experiences or participating in lengthy sessions.

Motion Sickness Symptoms

Motion sickness is common among new VR users. Over time, most people develop a tolerance, but some may continue to experience symptoms. Know your limits and take breaks as needed.

Impact on Sleep

Using VR close to bedtime can impact sleep quality. The bright screens in VR headsets emit blue light, which can disrupt our natural sleep patterns. Limit VR usage at least an hour before going to bed.

Psychological Effects

The immersive nature of VR raises concerns about potential psychological effects on users. While research is still limited, it’s important to be aware of the possible risks associated with prolonged immersion in virtual worlds.

It is essential to bear in mind the potential impacts on health that could arise from frequent use of VR. Stay safe and take breaks.

“Virtual Reality may cause visual strain, dizziness & impact sleep quality. Stay safe while enjoying VR by taking breaks and following the 20-20-20 rule. #VRhealth #StaySafe”Click to Tweet

FAQs in Relation to Does Virtual Reality Cause Headaches?

Can virtual reality cause headaches?

Yes, virtual reality can cause headaches for some users due to prolonged use, incorrect headset adjustments, and sensitivity to motion sickness.

What are the negative effects of virtual reality?

Virtual reality can cause negative effects such as eye strain, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, and headaches, which may vary depending on individual factors.

Can VR cause headaches and nausea?

VR can cause headaches and nausea in some users due to motion sickness or simulator sickness caused by discrepancies between visual input and physical sensations.

How do you stop VR from giving you a headache?

To prevent VR-induced headaches, take regular breaks, adjust your headset correctly, maintain proper distance from the screen, ensure good room lighting, gradually increase exposure time, stay hydrated during sessions, and avoid excessive caffeine intake before using VR devices.


Virtual reality is a popular technology that can cause headaches due to improper usage and prolonged exposure.

  • Reduce the risk of headaches by taking frequent breaks, adjusting your headset properly, and ensuring you have enough space to move around while using VR.
  • Potential causes of headache from virtual reality include motion sickness, eye strain, and dehydration.
  • Long-term effects of VR on health are still being studied, but excessive use may lead to vision problems or physical discomforts.

Espen is the Director of PursuitMeta


Espen is the Director of PursuitMeta and has written extensively about Virtual Reality and VR Headsets for years. He is a consumer product expert and has personally tested VR Headsets for the last decade.

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