This Vision Loss VR simulator shows what it’s like to go blind or partially lose your sight
Out of all the things many of us take for granted, sight is definitely one of them. Take it from me, I lost my vision when I was 18, and my world, both figuratively and literally, drained itself of colour.
While most virtual reality experiences are aimed at immersing you in vivid worlds of fictional fantasies and exciting, often grandiose situations, this 360-degree VR simulation does the opposite. It puts you in a virtual reality where you have limited vision.
The Davis Vision’s Vision Loss Simulator works best on mobile. Tap Virtual Experience, slot your phone into your VR goggles or your Google Cardboard, and off you go.
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Firstly, you’re presented with a romanticised and audio-enabled view of a garden in a faux naturelle world, filled with all its lush, vibrant greens and a shocking blue sky, complete with a gurgling, coughing infant to boot.
You can explore your environment by looking around and tilting your head left and right. Explore that for a bit with full vision and then when you’re ready, switch over to one of the eye conditions and feel the garden morph into a disorientating mess.
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Like all narcissists, the first thing I did was look for my eye condition, but because I have such a rare disease, I had to settle for the closest thing: macular degeneration, which obscures the central part of your eyesight and is likely as accurate as I can get.
The Vision Loss Simulator has people narrating their experiences from their perspective of having one of the six most common eye conditions – glaucoma, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, presbyopia, glare, and macular degeneration.
According to the RNIB, more than two million people in the UK have sight loss, and while you might not know anyone with some form of vision impairment, you’ll definitely have heard of one of the above. The different simulations spin you from colourless world, to Gaussian swirls and blurs.
When I get people asking me how much I can see, I either have to give them a long-winded explanation, involving donuts, holes and lots of hand waving. Or I use one of those makeshift vision loss simulator glasses which, in all disrespect, are just glasses with a bit of black tape stuck onto the front of lenses.
While the Vision Loss Simulator doesn’t have my condition, at least now I can give people a half-decent representation of what my eye condition, and my world, looks like.