How Comfortable Are VR Headsets With Glasses?

There's been a whole lot of VR at GDC 2016. A couple of years ago, every third developer session was about free-to-play mobile games, and now every third session is about making things for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and/or PlayStation VR. Of the many major questions about these headsets' comfort and viability, the one I keep hearing is: can I really wear this thing over normal glasses?

All the VR headsets are ostensibly designed to be worn over glasses, but depending on your frames and how short-sighted you are, it varies in comfort. Personally, I have big ol' hipster nerd glasses that cover half of my face (see below), and am so short-sighted that without them I can see pretty much nothing. Having spent the last 3 days jumping between realities, these are my findings.

The good news: all the headsets did physically fit over my glasses. The Oculus Rift was the tightest fit - sometimes I had to remove my glasses and put them inside the headset first, before putting the whole thing over my face and adjusting the straps. It was also a little snug: the headset was pressing my frames into my nose, which got uncomfortable after 20 minutes or so.

The HTC Vive was easier to put on - I didn't have to take my glasses off and insert them, I could just put the headset on normally. But like the Rift, the positioning of the head-straps meant that the unit did weigh on the frames a bit: both headsets put weight on the nose, which for a speccy person translates to pressure on the top of the frames.

PlayStation VR was the most comfortable, for two reasons. The weight of the headset is mostly on your forehead and the top of your head rather than your face, thanks to the positioning of the headband, which means you barely feel any pressure on the nose. Secondly, instead of solid black foam blocking out the gaps between the headset and your face, it has flexible black rubbery plastic that doesn't interfere with your frames.

The weirdest thing about VR for a glasses-wearer is that you suddenly have perfect peripheral vision. My whole life I've seen the world through rectangular lenses, and in VR my field of view was suddenly much wider. It spooked me a bit (and made me consider laser surgery for about the 50th time).

No matter what headset I was using, I'm still finding that VR gives me a bit of a hangover-like headache after prolonged use. I can't tell you whether this is a problem with my brain, with my glasses, or with the tech - my suspicion is that I'll adapt to it with time - but I feel like staring through four lenses right up against your face is probably not the greatest idea for your vision.

Unfortunately, without glasses, I can't see in VR properly. I don't know enough about ocular physiology to understand why this is, but the adjustable focus on the headsets is never enough to help me see. I'm going to try putting contact lenses in when I get these things at home. If you can cope without your glasses, that is going to be the most comfortable option, but the good news is all the different headsets are perfectly usable with specs.


How I Felt After An Entire Day Of VR

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


Comments

    great article. Been wondering about this, and yeah the adjustable focus thing, I assumed wouldn't work for people with really bad eyesight.

    Yeah i really struggle with the DK2 and my glasses, ive got normal frames, not big or small but they fog up a little, or i miss part of the screen because it goes under my glasses to my natural vision, or the oculus pushes the glasses hard into my face.

    i really wish there were the ability to either make it easier for glasses weaers, or somehow customize the magnification of each eyepiece

    I basically can't use my Gear VR with my glasses thanks to the pain it causes and the fogging that results. On the flip side, I am practically blind without my glasses (my vision is limited around 3 inches). Sadness.

      Gear VR gets a bit foggy no matter what ive found - Try contacts - the mrs is happy with trying out a new experience or video on there when she has contacts in... Dont bother asking her to try while wearing her specs ;)

        I can't wear contacts thanks to a horribly misshapen eye :( Oh well, my Gear VR will continue to gather dust and be used for five minutes every now and then to show people the novelty of it.

          Would that be from astigmatism? It bars me from contacts as well.

            Indeed! Shockingly bad astigmatism in that eye. RIP to our eyes :'(

              I didnt know they got that bad. Mrs has an astigmatism but its not that bad at all - always has worn contacts

              Gear VR is a bit like that - But I do have to finish Dead Secret at some point!!! Scared the shit out of me a couple of times!

              Farewell my eyes, we had some awesome adventures together, even if they were a bit blurry from your slow descent into short-sightedness. I'll never forget the first pair of boobs we saw together "sniff" RIP buddy.

    I have a DK2, and wear my glasses inside it. Tight fit, but it works. I also have a gearVR, and I find that with my medium-badness short sightedness, I can use the adjustable focus and forgo my glasses all together. I can use my glasses in the GearVR also, and it is a comfortable fit, moreso than the DK2.

    PlayStation VR was the most comfortable...

    Shuhei Yoshida would have darn well made sure that he could wear the VR with comfort as well as the rest of us.

    FINALLY! Someone has asked the really important questions. I am bind as a bat without my glasses and I can't wear contact. SO I have always been lukewarm about VR, nice to hear it is "usable".

    My vision can't reach past (roughly) 3 feet so I assume the VR screen wont be much of a problem.

    Also:
    Do you need to wear glasses when using binoculars ? I never thought about it until now....

      I'm not sure if the focal point of the consumer Rift is known, it might at least be suspected to be 1.5m. Pretty sure the DK2 was 1.3 (and DK1 was at infinity).

      Since the normal eye can't focus on something as close as the screen of a VR headset, the headsets have to include lenses to adjust focus so that the eye CAN focus on the screen. As such, the VR screen certainly would be a problem if you didn't wear it with your glasses, as it's designed to distort the focus of the device in a way which is compatible with "normal" eyesight. That's what the little lenses are for in Google Cardboard.

      For similar reasons binoculars also require you to wear your glasses while you use them.

      Personally I'm somewhat short-sighted; I can see well enough to move around without them without undue peril, but need them to read any fine print further away than 30cm or so.

      In any case, I'm glad to hear that most of the VR implementations work with glasses, although I'm not sure how glad that is as it's a tech I'm sort of looking for excuses to dislike...

    Enough dioptre adjustment is on my "must have" list for VR headsets just above "motion tracking" and "less than atrocious screen-door"

    Cool, thanks for that! Really useful info.
    Also, maybe you have astigmatism? which could cause the not seeing properly.

    I've had similar issues with FPV headsets (flying Quadcopters). I found the relatively cheap Eachine VR-007 the best for my glasses, yet struggled with the Fatshark (squashed glasses frame to face). Even struggled with the DIY Quanums (too narrow for glasses frame).

    So the Playstation VR is basically the most well built with the most thought put in?

    Good morning Keza, are you aware that your haircut is cutting down your FOV. :) Beyond!

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