Nimmi Mistry, professional services optician at Vision Direct, explores…
Following the recent announcement of the Apple Vision Pro, consumers are gearing up for this unique headset that combines our physical world with a digital one. Positioned as one of the most powerful and immersive personal electronic devices available on the market, eye care professionals like me can’t help but consider the potential implications the uses of this technology would have on the health of our eyes.
Studies have shown that typically UK adults spend 4,866 hours a year staring at screens, the equivalent of 202 days. With the Apple Vision Pro being a wearable device, which allows users to switch views between virtual and reality there is no need to put this “screen” down, meaning it is likely this number will rise.
Given this latest technology also introduces the concept of spatial computing, no controller is required. Instead, you navigate through your voice, hands and eyes, and it’s the impact on your eyes that could be of concern.
Here are just a few potential issues to be aware of:
Digital Eye Strain
Otherwise known as computer vison syndrome. This term is given to a collective set of symptoms that come about following prolonged exposure to digital devices.
Typical symptoms include asthenopia (headaches induced by screen work) and tired, strained eyes. These symptoms appear to be pronounced when engaging in excessively close work and the Apple Vision Pro appears to bring us closer than ever to apps, content, messaging platforms and more. To alleviate these symptoms, you’d want to ensure an appropriate viewing distance, which could also help slow the rate of myopic (short-sighted) progression.
Working on computer screens and tablets requires concentration. The more you concentrate, the less you blink, which has a negative impact on the quality and quantity of your tears. This results in your eyes feeling less lubricated and irritable. To combat this, you can take regular breaks from using digital devices and use artificial tears, which are eye drops used to replenish your quantity of tears and relieve the symptoms of discomfort.
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Blue Light Exposure
As the Apple Vision Pro boasts more pixels than a “4K TV for each eye”, there is a concern around blue light exposure. Screens, like your phone and TV, emit blue light which interrupts and reduces the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Extended screen exposure can therefore cause disruptions to your sleeping patterns and sleep quality. Lack of sleep is something that in turn can also negatively impact your eye health.
Infrared and LED exposure
The Apple Vision Pro’s “high-performance eye tracking system of LEDs and infrared camera projects invisible light patterns onto each eye”. Unlike blue light exposure, invisible and infrared light are electromagnetic waves we cannot see.
They’ve been used in many devices such as trackers, satellites, sensors and CCTVs, and without a doubt are very useful. Based on current exposure limits they cause no acute damage to the eye. However, research is needed to investigate the profound effects from long-term potentially more intense exposure.
The Apple Vision Pro headset blocks out unwanted light, meaning your eyes will need time to adjust when the device is removed. This time is amplified in an ageing eye.
There is also the issue for eyeglasses wearers. As this device is made to fit the wearer snuggly to omit any outside light sources, it is likely that those that wear glasses won’t be able to do so while using the device. This would require more people to switch to contact lenses. Those that aren’t used to wearing them can make mistakes. Therefore, it is vital that if you switch to contacts you read up on how to put in contact lenses correctly and take them out, to avoid eye health issues.