We already know that spending hours on end staring at screens isn’t easy on your eyes, but watching your screen-to-sunlight ratio can be especially important for children whose eyes are developing.
At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, the tech company addressed the prevalence of myopia — the medical term for “short-sightedness” that affects nearly a third of us (30%) — with updates to its health features in watchOS 10, iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
Read more: WWDC 2023 recap: Vision Pro headset, iOS 17 and everything else Apple announced
Getting off the screen and in daylight
While everyone can 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-age children, according to one estimate from the International Myopia Institute.) Apple says it can help with that by letting Apple Watch owners monitor how much time they spend in the sun ambient light light sensor from watchOS 10.
For kids who don’t have an iPhone, parents can use Family Setup to pair their watch with their parent’s phone. (Of course, this means you’ll need to get your kid an Apple Watch to use the daylight tracking feature.) You can see all of this in the Health app, which is available on iPad as well as iPhone with iPadOS 17 update.
In other vision news, Apple announced a screen distance feature that encourages people to move their device further away from their face if they’ve held it close for too long. The distance feature uses the same TrueDepth camera for iPad and iPhone.
Remembering to hold your devices a book-reading distance or more away from your face will help adults prevent eye-strain symptoms, but Apple also relies on similar myopia research that found that children, especially , can reduce the risk of myopia by limiting their exposure to their screens. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends sitting 25 inches, roughly an arm’s length, from your computer.
For more on WWDC, read about Apple’s VR headset that could make augmented reality mainstream, and the new iPhone updates. Plus, learn when it might be time for your next eye exam and Apple’s latest hearing test.