Doctors say that Glass can cause light headaches as the tiny display forces the eye to perform movements it would not be supposed to perform naturally.
While visiting Google’s New York HQ, Betabeat tested Google Glass and the results weren’t exactly what they expected. Both writers have experienced a sharp headache after the first ten minutes of using the wearable device; the pain disappeared when the device was removed from their foreheads. When they went there for the second time, they asked the people in charge with developing Glass if they know about and how will they deal with the headaches caused by wearing the device, but they seemed rather baffled than aware of the matter.
Frankly, there are a lot of common headaches that doctors and scientists can’t tell their provenience; it’s the case of Glass as well: while it is well known that there are users who experience pain when using Glass for the first time, scientists can’t put their finger on the issue. And there are quite a few user reports that explain how after using Glass they got to experience headaches and also fear that their eyes might suffer damage on long-term usage.
After insisting on the matter, the guys from Betabeat were put in contact with Dr. Eli Peli, a very good optometrist brought from Harvard to consult and discover the correlation between ocular discomfort and headaches.
Apparently, the Glass caused headaches go way back at the beginning of project Glass, when the team decided to place its tiny display out of the human field of vision, thus forcing the eye to do an unnatural movement.
The other options they had were to place the display below or ahead of the eye, which as Dr. Peli mentioned, are the most comfortable places for the eye; most of us look down or straight, only painters and electricians tend to look up more than the rest of us, but only because their job requires to do so.
However, placing Glass’s display in the most comfortable places for the eye would have obstructed the line of vision; so, they decided to place it in the upper-right corner. But while the user can now wear the device without crashing into things in his way, the downside is that this placement can cause headaches.
Dr. Peli explains that when a person looks to the right or left, his eye will only be catching a glance before the head would also turn left or right; so, practically our eyes aren’t used to looking in one side for a long time period. He compares this action with standing in a leg – after a while, you will feel tension and pain in that leg, because you don’t usually hold your weight on just one leg; thus, looking at Glass’s display for a minute means you’re keeping your eye in an uncomfortable position 60 times more than usual.
After all, Glass isn’t created for users to watch long videos or read books on it, but just for small time uses such as checking a notification, taking a picture or checking fast directions. But as a newly Glass owner, you are tempted to play with it more than recommended so that you could make the appropriate settings. And the beginning with Glass seems to be the one that causes most of the eye pain, because as Dr. Peli says, it isn’t correct to call it a headache, if it’s merely a discomfort of the eye muscles. Calling it a “pain” or “tension headache” would not make it fit in the profile of a regular headache.
But after a while the pain goes away, as the eye muscles will get used to this kind of movement; for some it would last a couple of days, for others a week or two, depending on the time period the user is using Glass for. Also, using Glass briefly will also help diminish the pain.
Doctor’s orders are not to over use Glass right form the start. Users can avoid headaches if they have a slower start and don’t jump right into it and spend long periods of time with the glasses on from the very first day.
However, Google cannot establish a unitary usage method for all the Glass users and there are a lot of people that already use the device in ways Google never though of. And since the Glass tutorial doesn’t contain the recommendation or disclaimer that warns the user on possible eye pain, why would a fresh Glass owner consider that?!
In an interview for CNET, one of Glass’s advocate and fan Chris Barett said that Glass should come with this warning and advise the user to limit the use if any pain appears. At some point, the pain was so unbearable that he decided not to use Glass anymore.
We aren’t surprised that Google kept this matter under the covers so far, but as cases keep spreading everywhere it’s not normal to just sit back and let the users get to the bottom of this on their own and wonder why they are experiencing the discomfort.
After a big bulk of similar stories, Google made an official comment saying that it is normal for new users to experience an adjustment period, and they recommend Explorers to take it easy in the beginning and use the device just as it’s supposed to be used – for micro glances and not for watching long videos or reading complicated and long texts.