VR Headsets Used In Public Demos Blamed For Spreading Eye Herpes Virus

Oculus Rift

Now that the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are here, virtual reality is finally starting to spread. Let's cross our fingers that ocular herpes doesn't follow suit. We're not pulling that worry out of thin air—Twitter user @Drfit0r posted a screenshot of VR developers having a conversation with a game studio about ocular herpes "going around VR headsets" at events where people demo them.

Public events where people share gadgets and gizmos are breeding grounds for germs, which is one reason why you often see people carrying around little bottles of hand sanitizer. But just as germs can spread from game controllers, smartphones, and other handheld items, they can also hitch a ride on VR headsts and land smack dab on your face.

The following conversation between developers and a game studio brings up the need to "clean headsets regularly" to prevent the spread of ocular herpes, a common and recurrent viral infection caused by the type 1 herpes simplex virus.
Otherwise known as eye herpes, an infection can lead to inflammation and scarring of the cornea that's like having a cold sore on your eye. This is the same type of herpes that causes cold sores on the lips and mouth. Should you be unlucky enough to catch it, treatment consists of eye drops and medication.

The good news here is that this doesn't appear to be a widespread thing. At present, all we have is a single conversation. However, it is something to keep in mind if you're thinking about trying on a VR headset at a public demo. If you notice the booth keepers aren't regularly cleaning the headset, you might want to politely educate them on the risks and/or seek out a manager.