The number of people who use light-weight and affordable gadgets to watch TV series and movies or to play games during their daily commute is on the rise. However, not many realise that they could fall prey to something called ‘cyber sickness’ or ‘digital motion sickness’.
Dr Sanjay Bhatia, an ENT surgeon, explains the condition: “While travelling, digital motion sickness is induced due to the mismatch of motion and vision, among other factors.
This could cause strain on the eyes, blurred vision, headaches, giddiness and nausea. It also affects various organs due to the disturbance of the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system responsible for the control of bodily functions such as breathing, the heartbeat and the digestive processes).”
The symptoms are similar to those of motion sickness, but the two conditions are poles apart. In motion sickness, the brain registers movement, but in digital motion sickness, the brain registers movement and also has to process fast-moving images.
Facts to know:
* Having motion sickness does not make you more susceptible to this condition
* Adults are more susceptible to it than children
* Women are more prone to it Those with type-A personality (perfectionists) are prone to it
* The more real the images seem (for instance watching movies or playing games in HD and 3D), the worse your sickness gets
* Do not mistake it for vertigo.
Can you beat it?
Experts say that training yourself with the startstop-repeat method (stop watching/playing when the discomfort starts, wait for the symptoms to subside, and repeat once you feel better) may help you get over ‘cyber sickness’. However, there are no long-term studies that document the side-effects of this method, if any.
“This condition could prove to be dangerous as it affects one’s sense of balance. Hence, it is important to be aware of its existence and take constant breaks while working or playing on a smartphone or a tablet,” says Dr Kersi Chavda, consultant in psychiatric medicine.
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