What if the screens made you sick?

For three years, Magali Lacroix worked all day in front of two computer screens. “And I look at my phone a lot, I’m a bit addicted”, she admits, looking guilty. And it’s been three years since this 46-year-old woman from Montpellier felt “headache, pain between the two eyes and visual fatigue” repeated after his working day. She quickly linked these symptoms to screen time. Before becoming a consultant at a consulting company, Magali had a job “land” which did not force her to stare at the computer from 9 am to 6 pm, and she never complained of headaches. She also never had a migraine while on vacation.

Researchers describe this state of discomfort as “visually induced motion sickness”, which can be translated as “motion sickness caused by vision.” It is the opposite of the motion sickness it causes “Real motion, such as the motion of a car, a ship, or even a spaceship”, explains Behrang Keshavarz, researcher at the Kite Institute at Toronto Hospital (Canada) and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. There is a conflict in the brain between what the eyes perceive (motion) and what the inner ear senses (silence). The number of people affected by screen overexposure varies depending on the type of device and how it is used. “This could be up to 70% of users watching certain VR videos”clarifies Mr. Keshavarz.

There’s even been a word coined to talk specifically about these VR-induced discomforts: “cybersickness” (cyber sickness, in English). Headaches, visual fatigue, sweating, paleness… The symptoms are varied. It can even cause nausea and dizziness.

This is Pauline Perrier (28), an IT consultant in Sanary-sur-Mer, Var. She spends most of her time at the computer working, sometimes ten hours in one day. “My eyelids often flutter and when I stand up I feel dizzy, I see everything black for a few seconds”, she describes. She continues annoyed: “I’m often told I’m magnesium deficient or sleep deprived, but I can see very clearly that I don’t feel these sensations when I’m on holiday. »

Also read: The article is intended for our subscribers The average sleep time of the French falls below 7 hours per night

She was treated several times with vitamins and magnesium – “even if I’m not a fan of taking pills every day” She confessed, but it did nothing to solve her problem. She exercises outside four times a week, walks her dog after work and never uses the computer for fun, but it’s not enough. “I’d need a four-day week”she suggests, even if it’s not on her employer’s agenda at all.

67.44% of this article remains to be read. The rest is for subscribers.

Hubert Gildon

"Coffee maven. Bacon nerd. Infuriatingly humble beer expert. Explorer. Tv guru. General alcohol specialist. Gamer. Proud problem solver."