J Vis. 2023 Aug 1;23(8):10. doi: 10.1167/jov.23.8.10.
Wearable optics have a broad range of uses, for example, in refractive spectacles and augmented/virtual reality devices. Despite the long-standing and widespread use of wearable optics in vision care and technology, user discomfort remains an enduring mystery. Some of this discomfort is thought to derive from optical image minification and magnification. However, there is limited scientific data characterizing the full range of physical and perceptual symptoms caused by minification or magnification during daily life. In this study, we aimed to evaluate sensitivity to changes in retinal image size introduced by wearable optics. Forty participants wore 0%, 2%, and 4% radially symmetric optical minifying lenses binocularly (over both eyes) and monocularly (over just one eye). Physical and perceptual symptoms were measured during tasks that required head movement, visual search, and judgment of world motion. All lens pairs except the controls (0% binocular) were consistently associated with increased discomfort along some dimension. Greater minification tended to be associated with greater discomfort, and monocular minification was often-but not always-associated with greater symptoms than binocular minification. Furthermore, our results suggest that dizziness and visual motion were the most reported physical and perceptual symptoms during naturalistic tasks. This work establishes preliminary guidelines for tolerances to binocular and monocular image size distortion in wearable optics.