Modern virtual reality (VR) headsets use lenses that distort the visual field, typically with distortion increasing with eccentricity. While content is pre-warped to counter this radial distortion, residual image distortions remain. Here we examine the extent to which such residual
distortion impacts the perception of surface slant. In Experiment 1, we presented slanted surfaces in a head-mounted display and observers estimated the local surface slant at different locations. In Experiments 2 (slant estimation) and 3 (slant discrimination), we presented stimuli on a mirror
stereoscope, which allowed us to more precisely control viewing and distortion parameters. Taken together, our results show that radial distortion has significant impact on perceived surface attitude, even following correction. Of the distortion levels we tested, 5% distortion results in significantly
underestimated and less precise slant estimates relative to distortion-free surfaces. In contrast, Experiment 3 reveals that a level of 1% distortion is insufficient to produce significant changes in slant perception. Our results highlight the importance of adequately modeling and correcting
lens distortion to improve VR user experience.