A teenage boy had to be rushed to hospital after a virtual reality (VR) headset seemed to irritate his skin so badly his eyes became swollen shut.
Lewis Gray, 13, received an Oculus Quest 2 headset from his grandparents for Christmas.
But after gaming with it for just a few hours, he was reportedly left with an allergic reaction so severe he could barely open his eyes.
Lewis’s reaction seemed fairly mild at first as he woke on Boxing Day with red marks on his cheekbones and forehead.
Mum Kirsty Reed, 33, said it just ‘looked like he was wearing blush’ and gave him some over-the-counter allergy medicine.
But the next day, Lewis’s eyes were ‘nearly shut with the swelling’ and his parents rushed him to St Peter’s Hospital in Lyne, Surrey – close to the family’s home in Chertsey.
Doctors apparently told the family Lewis was probably experiencing a delayed allergic reaction to the headset and gave the boy antihistamines and steroids.
‘It’s worrying because you don’t know what’s going to happen or if the reaction’s going to go further onto the throat,’ Kirsty said.
She added that the family were worried about the reaction turning anaphylactic, meaning it is life-threatening.
Kirsty said: ‘It could have completely closed his eyes if it had continued. Lewis was, in his words: “pissed off”.
‘It’s not very nice. I don’t think he fully understood until he spoke to the doctor.’
This is not the first time headsets of that kind appear to have caused allergic reactions.
Facebook Technologies, which created the headset, made the decision to recall the product in July, after it received 5,716 reports of facial skin irritation.
Of the almost 6,000 cases, 45 people needed medical attention.
After an investigation, Facebook – now known as ‘Meta’ – said it had ‘identified a few trace substances that are normally present in the manufacturing process which could contribute to skin discomfort’.
The statement added that, even though these were below industry standard, they had ‘changed [their] process to reduce them even further.’
As a result, the company started to include a silicone cover to act as a barrier between the user’s face and the foam on the headset from August 24 onwards.
Lewis’s headset did come with the cover but there were no instructions on how to use it or warnings about allergic reactions, according to Kirsty.
The mum-of-two said: ‘It’s a really high-tech gaming device that a lot of children want and we need this warning about the potential risks involved.
‘Why are they still producing it exactly the same when they know there’s a problem?
‘Lewis is quite fortunate he doesn’t have underlying allergens but for someone who’s prone for anaphylaxis it could kill someone.’
Kirsty has already reported what happened to Oculus, which apparently told her to stop her son from using the headset while the family waits for the company to inform them of the next steps.
After the skin irritation reports in July, Facebook Reality Labs said: ‘We took the skin irritation reports very seriously as soon as we learned about them and, beginning in December, we promptly conducted a thorough investigation including receiving advice from leading dermatologists and toxicologists.
‘These experts have advised that skin irritation can occur in some segments of the population from many household items—even things like tomatoes or shampoo—and that the rates we’ve seen are in line with expectations.
‘Our investigation determined that our manufacturing process is safe, meaning no unexpected nor hazardous contaminants were found in the Quest 2 foam interface or manufacturing process.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted Facebook for further comment.
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