Fresh Eyes: A Story of Clarity, Comfort & VR Lens Lab

Prologue

When I first got the Vive, I hadn’t really thought of how my glasses would come into play in terms of fit and comfort. With the default face foam on the Vive, there are cut-outs that actually allow for you to keep your glasses on while wearing the headset. So for the first few months, I wore my glasses and used the original foam. Everything was great, except for the added clunk and bulk of my frames stuffed in under the HMD.

As my passion for VR grew, so did my hunger for accessories and upgrades. I soon found a couple of cool accessories, Hyperkin gel skin for the HMD and controllers, or Mamut controller protectors. And of course, VR covers. We first opted for the denim type material that just wrapped over the original Vive foam, and still, I had no issue with wearing my glasses, though space was very limited.

Then, we bought VR Cover’s thicker 14mm memory foam, and all the space for glasses was gone. I found I could no longer fit my glasses in the HMD, at least without jamming them in with a bit of force first, and then gently sliding the HMD with glasses onto my face. But, this led to discomfort while playing. Considering the majority of my VR time is very active, I like to go all out and tend to get pretty intense in my gameplay.

Thus, I was left with the decision to keep the 14mm memory foam for increased comfort, but I had to play without my glasses. While playing without glasses, I didn’t find the distortion to be too bad, so I ended up playing without them for some time, and just lived with slightly blurry VR for a good 3-4 months.

Once the Deluxe Audio Strap came out, we ordered VR Cover’s 6mm memory foam to match the thinner replacement Deluxe Audio Strap memory foam. I’d finally had enough messing about and wanted a true solution, a solution that allowed for the optimal setup that was both as comfortable as possible, while actually being able to see clearly. Enter VR Lens Lab.

new case and frames.png

At this point, you pretty much only have two options if you’re in a position where your normal frames do not fit inside the headset. Either get contact lenses, which I would assume, you likely would’ve done this already if it was an option for you, or some sort of lens that will fit comfortably in your headset. You might be able to get away with a very thin frame, but VRLensLab offers a solid solution at a fair price. Most other frames I looked at would cost at least $100 once you include the prescription lenses. This is the price point VRLensLab comes in at, as well. However, you’re getting frames specifically designed for VR, incredibly lightweight, and as bare-bones as possible while still fitting your face properly.

I personally cannot use contact lenses. Every time I try, I waste hours attempting and never truly succeed and I get discomfort from wearing them. So really, my only option was some sort of frame, or optical inserts. However, I’ve heard complaint after complaint regarding the optical inserts, and when speaking with VR Lens Lab customer service, they recommended that I try the VR Frames instead. So I can’t speak to the actual lenses that are inserted into the HMD, but I will say I’ve read countless testimonials about issues or people just not happy with that product.

The Review – A Closer Look

As for the actual VR frames, once ordered, it took no more than 2 weeks for the frames to arrive at my door. For prescription glasses, the delivery time and pricing is pretty spot on. Once they arrived, I was eager to test them, as they are certainly unique. It’s essentially a frame without temple arms. In place of the normal plastic temple arms, there is an adjustable elastic band so you can just slide them over your head and adjust the tightness to your liking. I was a bit concerned about the plastic on the elastic band being pressed into my skull underneath the Deluxe Audio Strap, but it really wasn’t an issue at all, as you can simply move the strap up or down for a more comfortable fit.

I ended up wearing the glasses, trying to find the right fit, for most of that first night, even though it’s really not recommended for normal use. I just wanted to make sure it was the right prescription and watched a little bit of TV with them on, they were indeed very clear. Apparently, VR Lens Lab has come up with a new technology named RABS, which helps remove any “barrel distortion” you might otherwise encounter. This is because the lenses press up very close to your eyeballs, where normal glasses don’t, so this technology accommodates for that and does seem to help allow for clear vision, even with the lenses very close to your eyeballs.

I will admit, at first, there’s definitely some getting used to the fit of these unique frames. You have only a bridge that holds the two rims. The bridge is bendable, so you can adjust and get a proper fit as the lens should not be touching your eyes or eyebrows. There should be a bit of space between the lens and your face and you can further adjust them to rest comfortably with a slight forward angle, as recommended by the info card included with the frames.

frames.png

The frames themselves are very lightweight plastic, and included with the order is a neat triangle-shaped case and a cleaning cloth, plus instructions with adjustment and fit tips, and do’s and don’ts, etc. They are slightly fragile, so I would be careful to always hold the frames by the middle of the frame when making any adjustments, which is also mentioned in the documentation that comes with the frames.

Now, while it’s a bit odd wearing glasses so close to your face, wearing an elastic band around your head, and all these little oddities, I can 100% say that once I finally got around to actually putting the Vive headset on, all visibility of the lens frames was instantly gone. There is no discomfort at all. In fact, I forget I’m even wearing them once the headset is on. More importantly, they work!

I could see clearly in VR! Even better, when playing active games like Knockout League, Thrill of the Fight, RacketNX, or GORN, there was zero issue or hindrance from the VR frames, no matter how frantic my gameplay became. Everything feels great and looks amazing. After updating to a GTX1080ti and finally getting prescription lenses and upping my SS multiplier, it was like seeing VR for the very first time all over again.

One note, along with the Deluxe Audio Strap, and the 6mm foam, I am also using the memory foam replacement on the Deluxe Audio strap, I’m not sure that the memory foam helps in my situation, but I do want to make our set-up as clear as possible, just to be 100% upfront with every bit of detail.

Please keep in mind, you may still have issues with your lenses, even though I do not. Past a certain point, it really boils down to personal preference and personal comfort. I certainly cannot speak for everyone. But I can say that I’ve seen many people just as happy with the VR frames as I am, and I do feel comfortable recommending this option to anyone in a similar situation.

frayed band.png

I’m also factoring in that these are worn around your own head, meaning they can work with multiple VR headsets, as well as other devices. For instance, with all the upcoming AR/VR/MR headsets in the works and being announced, it’s very likely these frames will work just as well with all the new devices heading our way (although these lens are designed specifically to match to Vive, I imagine they’d work fine for others). So this one purchase does pay off, and if you’re a daily VR player like me, it’s definitely worth the $100 (EUR 86, includes shipping) to ensure crisp, clear VR without losing any comfort. Also, if you share a headset, you’re not taking out inserts before and after every play session. This was one of my main deciding factors for picking the frames over the inserts, actually.

I’ve used my pair every single day since I received them. They have held up greatly through my intense gaming sessions. I do find I have to clean them pretty much before or after each use, but this is just a reality of any pair of glasses. The elastic band that goes around the head has frayed a tiny bit and kinked slightly, but this is to be expected. I’m certain you’d easily find a replacement for the elastic so it’s not a huge issue. I have reached out to VR Lens Lab regarding the option to purchase additional elastic head-straps, and unfortunately they said they currently do not sell replacement parts, which might be a something to consider in the future. Otherwise if the strap did snap, I am certain I could find a replacement easy enough.

So if you wear prescription glasses, and can’t/don’t want to go with contacts, and you’re looking for the optimal solution for comfort and clarity, VR Lens Lab VR Frames are a solid choice. I even feel a bit silly that I waited so long to finally give these a try, but I’m certainly glad that I finally did.

-dgtlhrt

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