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October 31, 2021

Why Text is Blurry in Virtual Reality (And What To Do About It)

When you get into VR one of the first annoying things that you’ll notice is that text can be incredibly blurry. Let’s go over the common reasons why that is and what can be done about it.

Reason 1) Your Lenses are Smudged / Not IPD Adjusted for Your Eyes

While there are lots of reasons that text could be blurry, the most obvious solution is that your lenses are smudged or the IPD slider (how far apart the lenses are) isn’t adjusted for your eyes.

Lens Smudge

If you notice smudges, use a dry optical microfiber cloth to clean them. Try to avoid using liquid or chemicals or materials that might scratch the lenses. Start from the center of the lens and gently wipe in a circular motion moving outwards.

For the IPD adjuster, it’s best to just experiment with a setting and remember where you had your slider. Then adjust and see if it got better or worse. Repeat until you’ve found the best placement for you and remember where that sweet spot is for future gameplay.

Reason 2) The Developer used an image based font (woff, woff2, etc.) rather than a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file

If this is why your text is blurry there are only two potential solutions to it.

  1. Try making the window smaller (If you’re using something like a virtual web browser).
  2. Contact the developer and tell them they have an issue with blurry text.

This is an extremely common problem in the early days of VR. The reason it happens is because most fonts get served in image formats like woff, woff2, etc. Images will pixelate as you grow larger than their native resolutions. Virtual screens tend to be well larger than a typical computer monitor, and so blurry text is a common occurrence in the virtual world.

Reason 3) Your Headset’s Resolution Sucks

While the Quest 2’s resolution stacks up pretty well compared to most competitors (and crushes them on price), it’s still not a super high-resolution headset. Some blurriness that you’re experiencing could simply be that your headset can’t accommodate that level of crispness (particularly at a distance).

If you’re not using a Quest 2, you may have resolution settings you could attempt to increase if your graphics card could handle it.

I’d tell you to buy a better headset, but in 2021 (when I wrote this post), it’s difficult to find a headset with a vastly superior resolution to the Quest 2. The Varjo Aero is probably the highest resolution headset on the commercial market right now. But, it costs more than $2,000 and is on backorder as of this writing.

Reason 4) You’re Streaming at a Low Resolution

If your text is coming across blurry when watching video on Netflix, YouTube, etc. Make sure you’re streaming the video at the highest resolution possible. VR screens tend to be larger than those found in a living room, so there actually is a big difference between 1080p and 4k on a large VR display.

This effect is even more pronounced when watching 180° or 360° video. Use the highest resolution possible in these scenarios!

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.