We already know spending hours on end staring at screens isn’t easy on your eyes, but monitoring the screens-to-sunlight ratio may be especially important for children whose eyes are developing. Apple wants to help with that, but first, you’ll have to buy your kid an Apple Watch.
At its WWDC event Monday, the tech company leaned into the prevalence of myopia — the medical term for being “nearsighted,” which affects almost one-third of us (30%) — with updates to its health features on WatchOS 10, iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
While everyone could benefit from more time spent outside and away from screens, children whose eyes are developing can especially benefit from more time spent outdoors and potentially reduce their risk of nearsightedness. (Between 80 and 120 minutes of outdoor time is recommended for school kids, per one estimate from the International Myopia Institute.) Apple says that Apple Watch owners will be able to monitor how much time they spend in the sunlight with an ambient light sensor from WatchOS 10.
For kids who wear a watch but don’t have an iPhone, parents can use Family Setup to pair their watch with their parents’ phone. You can view all of this in the Health app, which is available on iPad as well as iPhone with the iPadOS 17 update.
In other vision news, Apple announced a Screen Distance feature that encourages people to move their device farther from their face if they’ve been holding it close for too long. The distance feature uses the same TrueDepth camera for iPad and iPhone.
Remembering to keep your devices book-reading distance or more from your face will help adults stave off symptoms of eye strain, but Apple also draws on a similar body of myopia research that finds kids, especially, may reduce their risk of myopia by limiting their exposure to screens.
In general, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends sitting 25 inches, roughly an arm’s length, away from your computer.
For more on WWDC, read about Apple’s VR headset that could make augmented reality mainstream, new updates to the iPhone and fitness perks coming with the latest Apple Watch update. Also, learn when it might be time for your next eye exam and the latest on Apple’s hearing study.