Can short-sighted people use virtual reality without glasses?

Holly Brockwell

This is something I was wondering after chatting to my friend Richard at the games festival EGX Rezzed. I’ve tried the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive (writeup here), and was blown away by both – but I had my contact lenses in. Would I have been able to see without them?

To my mind, it would make total sense if you didn’t need corrective lenses for VR, because the screens are right in front of your eyes. That means there’s no actual distance, only pretend distance shown on the screen. But it turns out I’m wrong. I asked Gordon McKenzie, Co-Founder and Director of Clinical Development at Michelson Diagnostics (a British medical imaging company), who worked on some of the early-stage virtual reality tech at Sira, and also has a PhD in Medical Lasers (lasers!). And he told me:

The reason VR doesn’t work for short-sighted people [without…

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