These Motion Sickness Glasses Actually Work. An Expert Explains Why.

At age 7, while bumping along in the back of my parent’s VW bus and thoroughly immersed in Roald Dahl’s “The BFG,” I was struck with an overwhelming wave of nausea that culminated in tossing my cookies on the side of the interstate highway. Thus began my very long and arduous relationship with motion sickness.

Fast-forward to recent adulthood, when I came across some bizarre-looking glasses that promised to deter motion sickness thanks to the magic of their cartoonish shape. My unfortunate and highly common condition made me the perfect candidate to put these glasses to the test, no matter how ridiculous they made me look.

The flexible frames of these spectacles are made up of four circles filled halfway with a blue liquid that, when worn, can only be seen in your peripheral vision. According to the maker, this design promises nothing less than complete sickness relief, even when reading or looking at your phone in the car –– something completely unheard of for motion sickness sufferers.

I’ll cut right to the chase and say that these things worked. Like, shockingly well.

In the name of science (and at the risk of my stomach), I wore the glasses sitting in the backseat of the car, while reading, as my partner drove around. Normally, and especially under these circumstances, it would take less than a few minutes for the nausea and headaches to hit. But this time, my symptoms never came. Was this just the placebo effect in action, or was there actual science behind this?

To find out, I spoke with Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya, board-certified otolaryngologist and professor of otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School. He explained that motion sickness is caused when a disconnect occurs in the brain’s ability to detect where the body is in motion.

“The brain depends on sensory input from many organ systems, such as the eyes and inner ear, to tell if the body is in motion and where it’s positioned in space,” Bhattacharyya said. “When you get into a car that’s moving, your organ systems are still sensing the motion around you, but the body itself is stable, causing the integration of those messages to get disrupted.”

Although Bhattacharyya can’t say for sure all the reasons the glasses are effective, he thinks that the liquid sloshing back and forth inside the rings helps the eyes to recognize movement and create an artificial horizon, allowing the brain to bridge the gap between motion and stability.

“In my opinion, if [these] work for someone, I think it’s a lot better than taking anti-nausea medications, which are mainly all just sedatives,” Bhattacharyya added.

Had these ridiculous-looking glasses existed much earlier on in my life, my passenger commuting experiences would have been a lot more comfortable. If you or your child experiences a similar struggle, it might be worth your while to grab yourself a pair before your next road trip, plane ride or cruise.

Here are some promising reviews from Amazon:

“This summer, our family has had loads more road trips but I started testing them in small increments. First, I tried checking my phone when my husband was driving (even briefly this would typically give me a headache and I’d start feeling car sick) but I didn’t have any problems. Then I tried them on long car rides with windy roads, also no car sickness. At this point, I can play games on my phone and am so happy about this find.” – Irene Ng

“I’ve suffered from motion sickness my whole life- as a kid, every trip meant hours of throwing up and then trying to sleep it off once we reached our destination. As an adult, I struggle riding with others (especially manual transmission) and I fear long road trips. My nausea sometimes lasted days. Typically I feel nauseous within a few blocks/ miles, but today I tried these out for a 6 hour road trip through some residential and some highway sequences. I managed to read. I didn’t know how they’d fare at night when the liquid wasn’t visible but I read on my kindle with absolutely no issue. Before, I could read a sentence on my phone and I’d instantly feel sick. I spent the entire ride reading or on my phone. Yes, I looked ridiculous in them, but I’d rather look a little odd for 6 hours instead of having long-lasting nausea and drugging myself with Dramamine to pass out instead.” – rachael

“I have been playing games for over a decade. As I aged, I noticed that some games started giving me the feeling of motion sickness or cybersickness. My husband plays certain games that I can’t even play for a second because it makes me sick. I gave these glasses a try. What do I have to lose other than $20[?] I put them on while I was playing my normal game I play at first, then switched to one of the games that kind made me sick. Then I got in the game that was the worst for me. I was amazed, I could move the camera around and move around without instantly wanting to barf!” – Gall