I am quite a fan of the recent oculus rift VR glasses, but it does have several flaws over normal vision, most notably a much less wide field of view, the so-called screen door effect because of too low resolution (example 1, example 2) and often also a certain latency between head movements and corresponding view angle change.

Could one, in theory, create glasses which have these limitations to wear during everyday life to adapt to them, and later have the benefit of a more "realistic" experience?

I know making the glasses is not trivial, I'm just asking about whether the perceptual adaptation part would even work as intended, what timeframe I could expect to adapt in, and how stringent the wearing of them has to be (is waking up without them ok, or should sleep be blindfolded, etc).

Does anyone have experience/advice/knowledge on the subject, maybe even links to prior applications?

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting question. Just for clarification: What do you exactly mean with: "Could one, in theory, create glasses which have these limitations to wear during everyday life to adapt to them, and later have the benefit of a more "realistic" experience?" This is your primary question right? Are you wondering, in general, if one could adapt to altered visual perceptions after a while? Or are you specifically asking whether electronic glasses exist that use this principle? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jan 10, 2015 at 11:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Both. I'm wondering whether this principle could be used in such a way, and if yes, whether someone has already done so. In the meantime I've learned that apparently combined nearsight/farsight glasses for elderly occasionally do something like this (left eye nearsight, right eye farsight, for instance), but I've never heard of limiting sight to enhance realism of "fake sight" (television, VR, etc). $\endgroup$
    – Orpheon
    Jan 11, 2015 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


Adaptation to altered vision is probably most well-investigated using prism-glasses. Prism glasses can shift the visual horizontally, for example by 20 degrees (Redding et al., 2005):

Prism goggles

The use of horizontal shifting goggles has been investigated intensively to treat the symptoms of attentional neglect. Neglect occurs due to unilateral parietal brain lesions. For example, a lesion in the right hemisphere may induce left-sided neglect, where the left part of the visual field is seen, but simply not processed and neglected (Rosetti et al., 1998). Wearing prism goggles for approximately 6.5 hours/day, over the course of 2 weeks has been shown to reduce the symptoms of neglect significantly by as long as 17 weeks(!) after treatment (Frasinetti et al., 2002).

For the treatment of a neurological disorder such as neglect adaptation to prism glasses is great. However, treating healthy controls with comparable methods may induce unwanted side effects. 15 min of prism exposure has been shown to lead to several degrees of error in pointing tasks, for up to two weeks after the adaptation in normally sighted controls (Klapp et al., 1974).

To mention some studies closer to your question: in a virtual reality experiment subjects wore a head-mounted display that shifted the virtual position of their eyes. Their performance on a hand-eye coordination task first decreased by ~40% and then increased again with ~30% after adapting to the display. After taking the display off, there were transient after-effects, that impacted eye-hand performance (Rolland et al, 1995; Biocca & Rolland, 1998). In other studies wearing a head-mounted display longer lasting discomfort was reported in 5% of the subjects (Cobb et al., 1999) as well as binocular stress after removal of the display (Mark Mon-Williams et al., 1993).

Although the latter studies did not report serious after-effects, the more rigorously performed studies with the prism glasses have shown long-standing effects after visual adaptation. Hence, although the performance with virtual-reality head-mounted displays and comparable devices will undoubtedly increase after adapting to them, visual functions in everyday life may correspondingly be compromised.

So although this answer may not be addressing all your practical questions, I would say it is not advisable to let one actively adapt to head-mounted displays, or other wearable virtual-reality glasses that change visual function in the first place.

Biocca & Rolland, Presence 1998; 7:262-77
Cobb et al., Presence 1999; 8:169-86
Frasinetti et al., Brain 2002; 125:608-23
Klapp et al., Perception & psychophysics 1974; 15: 399-400
Redding et al. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2005; 29:3, 431-44
Rolland et al., IEEE Proceedings of VRAIS 1995
Rosetti et al. Nature 1999; 365:166*9


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