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5 Reasons Why The Apple Vision Pro May Be Vision-Problematic :

Updated: Mar 12

A Neuro-Ophthalmologist's Review

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the Apple Vision Pro AR device marks another milestone in augmented reality (AR). With its promise of immersive visual experiences and seamless integration into daily life, it's no wonder that so many people are eager to explore its capabilities. As an integrative neuro-ophthalmologist with an eye towards prevention, I wanted to try the device myself to see not only what all the hype is about, but also to experience how this technology may impact my vision.

I have to admit, using the Apple Vision Pro was an incredibly immersive experience! I was whisked away to fly over hills in a hot air balloon, transported underwater to swim with sharks, and then taken to relaxing vistas to enjoy gentle ripples on a mountain lake. These visual delights first drew me in, and then I was further awed by the Vision Pro's incredible functionality - being able to navigate by using my gaze and a tap of my fingers, open multiple windows simultaneously, view 3-D photos, videos, and so much more.

Dr Rani Banik trying the Apple Vision Pro AR Device
Dr Rani Banik trying the Apple Vision Pro AR Device

However after a short period of time, within just 10 minutes, I began noticing certain vision issues while using the device. I felt discomfort behind my eyes and began seeing ghost images, with just the beginnings of double vision. I was glad to end the demo, as the device had put too much strain on my eyes.

After gaining firsthand experience with the device, I realized how much the Apple Vision Pro may be vision-problematic. To help users of this new technology be better informed about its potential vision-related side effects, I put together my review of the top 5 vision concerns with the Apple Vision Pro AR Device:

1. Eye Strain: The Accommodation Conundrum

At the heart of the matter lies accommodation, a normal process through which the natural lens inside the eye adjusts focus to maintain clear vision at varying distances. While the brain may be tricked into perceiving distant objects through the Apple Vision pro, the eyes themselves are forced to focus up close via accommodation, often at a focal point mere inches away. This mismatch between visual perception and ocular physiology can lead to considerable eye strain. Prolonged exposure to this mismatched demand can result in discomfort, fatigue, headaches, and even long-term vision problems if left unaddressed.

2. Dry Eye Syndrome: A Blink Away from Discomfort

Blink and you might miss it – quite literally. The captivating allure of augmented reality experiences often leaves users entranced, with minimal attention paid to the simple, yet critical act of blinking. Normally, we blink 15 to 20 times a minute. However, when focused on a screen, we blink only 4-5 times a minute. Reduced blinking can have significant consequences for ocular health. Blinking serves as nature's way of replenishing the tear film that coats the surface of the eye, providing essential hydration and lubrication. By not blinking enough, users of the Apple Vision Pro are predisposed to developing dry eye syndrome, characterized by symptoms such as irritation, burning, and blurred vision. 

3. Light Sensitivity: Navigating the Blue Light Hazard

In today’s digital era dominated by screens and digital displays, concerns surrounding the adverse effects of blue light on visual health have come to the forefront. The Apple Vision Pro, with its vibrant and dynamic screen, emits a significant amount of blue light that can penetrate deep into the eye. In so many of my patients, I’ve noted that prolonged exposure to this high-energy light spectrum has been linked to various ocular and health issues, including digital eye strain, disrupted sleep patterns, and even migraine headaches. Users of the Apple Vision Pro therefore should consider implementing protective measures such as boosting natural blue-blocking pigments found in the retina, compounds known as the macular carotenoids, via diet or eye health supplementation, or screen time moderation to mitigate the cumulative potential risks associated with light sensitivity.

4. Convergence Insufficiency: The Double Vision Dilemma

One of the lesser-known challenges posed by augmented reality technology is the potential disruption of binocular vision and ocular alignment. Convergence insufficiency, a condition characterized by the eyes' inability to work together effectively at close range, can manifest as double vision or visual discomfort. During prolonged use of AR devices, there is a higher likelihood of the eyes being dissociated while viewing through the oculars, which may lead to their drifting apart (known as exotropia) and subsequent convergence insufficiency. I experienced this type of double vision myself when I did a demo with the Apple Vision pro device. To address this issue, users may benefit from convergence exercises or consulting with an ophthalmologist for more personalized interventions.

5. Disturbed Depth Perception: Navigating the Balance of the Visual System and the Cerebellum

Finally, let’s turn our attention to the complex interplay between the visual pathways and the cerebellum, a region of the brain responsible for coordinating movement and spatial awareness. AR experiences have the potential to disrupt the delicate balance maintained by this neural circuitry. The disconnect between visual cues and proprioceptive feedback can result in disturbed depth perception and loss of balance. Users may find themselves feeling disoriented or unsteady, particularly when transitioning between the virtual and physical environments. It's important to approach AR technology with caution, especially when in motion, given the risks of falls and injury.

Black young woman wearing Apple Vision pro device
The Apple Vision Pro AR Device

In conclusion, while the Apple Vision Pro AR device holds tremendous potential for innovation and immersive experiences, it is crucial to recognize and address the potential risks it poses to ocular health.

As a neuro-ophthalmologist, I urge individuals to approach AR technology with informed awareness and proactive measures to safeguard their vision for years to come. By prioritizing ocular health and adopting responsible practices, we can embrace the wonders of augmented reality while minimizing the associated risks. Remember, when it comes to your vision, informed decisions are the key to a clearer and safer future.

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