Why Do VR and AR Headsets Hate My Prescription Glasses Now?

I used to be at HTC’s demo of the brand new Vive XR Elite headset on the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, able to expertise the smallest-looking, blended reality-capable pair of VR goggles I’ve ever seen. Effectively, I attempted. I used to be requested to take my glasses off, as a result of — don’t fret, I used to be advised — this {hardware} has its personal prescription adjustment dials inside. I knew what would occur subsequent, as a result of I’ve seen this story occur over and over and over earlier than. 

The XR Elite stops at -6. I am a -8.25. In prescription language, meaning my excessive nearsightedness is not supported.

So I performed blurry VR till I attempted cramming my chunky glasses semisuccessfully inside… which solely made my face harm.  

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Tremendous Small Vive XR Elite Does not Fairly Work For My Eyes


Everybody needs to get their huge, cumbersome, bizarre VR and AR {hardware} shrunk all the way down to appear to be common glasses. There’s one catch to that: Should you do it, then they turn out to be your glasses now. And in the event that they’re your glasses, they should work together with your prescription. 

I’ve tried to crack open this puzzle field of wearable eye gear since Google Glass got here on the scene. I’ve actually unhealthy myopia. I like sporting glasses. To check Google Glass means again in 2013, I needed to put on contacts. 

Inside a pair of VR goggles, showing lenses and a dial with numbers on the outside

The within of the Vive XR Elite: Prescription changes enable a variety of imaginative and prescient to suit… however not huge sufficient for mine.

Scott Stein/CNET

My eyes are a tough match for VR and AR

I’ve written about this earlier than, many instances in reality. And but, within the VR period of 2016-22, I used to be granted a reprieve. VR {hardware} discovered to relaxation over my glasses, principally, permitting me to strive all types of tech (even the HoloLens 2 and Meta Quest Professional) and expertise them in sharp focus. Some headsets nonetheless assist glasses effectively: the Lynx-R1, a blended actuality headset I simply tried, has a easy flip-down visor that was excellent for me and my huge glasses. The PlayStation VR 2 can also be completely designed to accommodate my imaginative and prescient wants, with a big rubberized space I can relaxation my glasses into.

However I sense an issue coming, no less than for me. At CES 2023, I introduced a smaller pair of glasses that match higher into VR headsets, however didn’t carry contact lenses. I did not wish to put my fingers into my eyes at a flu- and COVID-spreading tremendous present. Would you? I knew issues may get bizarre. And sure, it seems, many glasses and headsets are turning to prescription inserts now. And most of them cap out at -8, slightly below what I would like. 

This occurred with Magic Leap 2. It occurred with Vuzix. It occurred with TCL with its VR headset. Am I going to should be Contact Lens Man now?

To make sure, my downside is particular to my extraordinarily unhealthy imaginative and prescient, and it is taking place in demos the place correct prescription suits cannot be assured. A way forward for prescription companies for headsets seems like it could be coming quick. Possibly getting the correct lenses can be straightforward. That can nonetheless imply, nonetheless, that I’ve to get new lenses for each single headset I put on (a common match appears unlikely), and it additionally means I will not be capable to demo {hardware} except they magically have what I would like. 

TCL glasses on my face

Making an attempt TCL’s latest AR glasses in Vegas: They’ve prescription lenses, however no less than within the demo space they did not fairly match my very own wants. I am nonetheless a little bit of an outlier.

Scott Stein/CNET

You may need the identical downside

It is maybe a much bigger downside than my demo-specific, tech journalist complaints. The Vive XR Elite was a deliberate resolution on a path to get smaller, and I have been advised that the priority about greater prescription ranges is basically an outlier concern. Possibly corporations are attempting to make their {hardware} smaller at any value, hoping that because it lastly turns into mass-market in just a few years, the lens scenario will magically determine itself out. Within the meantime, I see a way forward for dearer {hardware} that is much less accessible. Not a very good mixture for an trade that is attempting laborious to not drive folks away. 

Apple could also be going through this similar problem, primarily based on stories that its VR and AR headset may also have prescription inserts. Apple higher determine it out. It will make sense for the corporate to turn out to be like Warby Parker, and actually flip Apple Shops into optical retailers like North did with its Focals glasses earlier than being acquired by Google. 

Common optical retailers aren’t the reply. Meta’s Ray Ban Tales cannot be serviced to swap lenses regardless of being offered at LensCrafters. I do know: I attempted, with prescription lenses in hand that Meta despatched to me to check. I used to be turned away. 

I simply hope the scenario improves, as a result of I am frightened about how I am going to expertise the subsequent wave of VR/AR units if I can not put on them over my eyes. And even when I am an outlier, I do know I will not be the one one.