Boy, 13, rushed to hospital after allergic reaction to VR headset he got for Christmas


Lewis Gray, 13, from Chertsey, Surrey, got an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset from his grandparents for Christmas, but an allergic reaction to the product left his eyes swollen shut

Lewis Gray’s swollen eyes after he used a virtual reality headset he got for Christmas
Lewis Gray’s swollen eyes after he used a virtual reality headset he got for Christmas

A young boy has been rushed to hospital after he had an allergic reaction to the Facebook virtual reality headset that was given to him as a gift at Christmas.

Lewis Gray, 13, was left with his eyes swelled shut after his reaction to the Oculus Quest 2, a gift he received from his grandparents.

Lewis opened the high-tech toy on Christmas day, but it was not until Boxing Day that his mum Kirsty Reed, 33, began to notice the skin around his eyes and on his forehead turn red.

When he was taken to hospital, his eyes had begun to swell shut and doctors told him it was an allergic reaction.

A recent recall alert showed Facebook received nearly 6,000 reports of facial skin irritation.

These included rashes, swelling, burning, itching, hives and bumps after people had used the goggles.

Lewis Gray, 13, with his parents Chris and Kirsty Reed at their home in Surrey
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The Oculus Quest 2 is a virtual reality headset created by Facebook and can be used to play games on.

Mum Kirsty, from Chertsey, Surrey, said: “He played with it Christmas day on and off over a period of a few hours.

“When he woke up on Boxing Day morning there was irritation along his cheekbones and on his forehead.

“It almost looked like he was wearing blush.

“There was a slight amount of swelling so I gave him some Piriteze, but the next morning he’s woken up his eyes are nearly shut with the swelling.”

The Oculus Quest 2 given to Lewis Gray by his grandparents
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When he woke up he was rushed to hospital by his dad Christopher Gray, 39, into the urgent treatment centre at St Peter’s Hospital in Lyne.

When the doctor saw him, they said it could be a delayed allergic reaction to the headset.

Kirsty said: “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.

“Anaphylaxis was a major concern as the swelling was so much.

“The doctors had said if you get more irritation in his eyes or it swells more we would have to go straight back.

“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.”

Support worker Kirsty researched the Oculus Quest 2, and found that the product had been temporarily recalled in July.

Facebook, who own Oculus, started receiving reports of skin irritation in December 2020 and started an investigation.

This was then updated in April, saying that they had “identified a few trace substances that are normally present in the manufacturing process which could contribute to skin discomfort.”

The silicone cover that came with the Oculus Quest 2
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It added that, even though these were below industry standard, they had “changed [their] process to reduce them even further.”

But, in July, another notice was put on the Oculus website stating that as more people had started using the headset, more cases came in.

It read: “We’ve received reports that a very small percentage of Quest 2 customers were experiencing skin irritation after using the Quest 2 removable foam facial interface.”

They also then offered a free silicone cover to headset owners to protect their skin, and that all new units would include one from August 24.

Lewis was rushed to hospital after he woke up with his eyes swelled shut
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A recall alert showed that Facebook received 5,716 reports of facial skin irritation, with reactions including rashes, swelling, burning, itching, hives, and bumps, following use of the Oculus Quest 2.

They also received approximately 45 reports of consumers requiring medical attention.

Kirsty said: “What I can understand from what I’ve read up is that it’s the foam on the headset itself and there is chemicals.

“But it doesn’t say anything could cause irritation in the information booklets that come with it.

“It took me some digging to find the issues.”

Kirsty Reed and Lewis with the Oculus Quest 2
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Lewis’ device did come with the silicone cover, but Kirsty claims there was no indication as to why it was there.

While there were warnings included for epilepsy and that the product wasn’t suitable for children under 13, Kirsty couldn’t see anything mentioning potential skin irritation.

She said: “It didn’t even come with cover on it, it’s separate which makes you think if this is an issue why doesn’t it come with it on?

“It’s a really high-tech gaming device that a lot of children want and we need this warning about the potential risks involved.

The saftey manual that came with the Oculus Quest 2 given to Lewis Gray
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“Why are they still producing it exactly the same when they know there’s a problem?

“Lewis is quite fortunate he doesn’t have underling allergens but for someone who’s prone for anaphylaxis it could kill someone.”

The furious mum-of-two contacted Oculus which has since told her to stop her son using the product and that they will contact her about next steps.

Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs, published a letter in July addressing the reports of skin irritation.

Facebook’s recall alert showed they had received 5,716 reports of facial skin irritation from this product
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It read: “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.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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