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The Development of a Symptom Questionnaire for Assessing Virtual Reality Viewing Using a Head-Mounted Display

AMES, SHELLY L. PhD, BSc (Optom); WOLFFSOHN, JAMES S. PhD, MCOptom, FAAO; MCBRIEN, NEVILLE A. PhD, MCOptom, FAAO

Original Articles

Purpose. Virtual reality devices, including virtual reality head-mounted displays, are becoming increasingly accessible to the general public as technological advances lead to reduced costs. However, there are numerous reports that adverse effects such as ocular discomfort and headache are associated with these devices. To investigate these adverse effects, questionnaires that have been specifically designed for other purposes such as investigating motion sickness have often been used. The primary purpose of this study was to develop a standard questionnaire for use in investigating symptoms that result from virtual reality viewing. In addition, symptom duration and whether priming subjects elevates symptom ratings were also investigated.

Methods. A list of the most frequently reported symptoms following virtual reality viewing was determined from previously published studies and used as the basis for a pilot questionnaire. The pilot questionnaire, which consisted of 12 nonocular and 11 ocular symptoms, was administered to two groups of eight subjects. One group was primed by having them complete the questionnaire before immersion; the other group completed the questionnaire postviewing only. Postviewing testing was carried out immediately after viewing and then at 2-min intervals for a further 10 min.

Results. Priming subjects did not elevate symptom ratings; therefore, the data were pooled and 16 symptoms were found to increase significantly. The majority of symptoms dissipated rapidly, within 6 min after viewing. Frequency of endorsement data showed that approximately half of the symptoms on the pilot questionnaire could be discarded because <20% of subjects experienced them.

Conclusions. Symptom questionnaires to investigate virtual reality viewing can be administered before viewing, without biasing the findings, allowing calculation of the amount of change from pre- to postviewing. However, symptoms dissipate rapidly and assessment of symptoms needs to occur in the first 5 min postviewing. Thirteen symptom questions, eight nonocular and five ocular, were determined to be useful for a questionnaire specifically related to virtual reality viewing using a head-mounted display.

Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Received April 21, 2004; accepted December 15, 2004.

© 2005 American Academy of Optometry