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Vision Health – how iOS 17 protects your eyesight

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  • Health and Screen Time can track new data points in iOS 17
  • Keeping tabs on Time in Daylight and Screen Distance can lower risk of myopia
  • Users can also monitor their kids’ vision health through Family Sharing

Watch out

With iOS 17, the Health app added several new features to help iPhone users – and their children – reduce the risk of visual impairment.

Apple says myopia – or nearsightedness – is the most common cause of visual impairment, with over 30% of people worldwide suffering from it to some degree. The risk of myopia is affected by a few key behaviors, which can now be tracked in the Health app. Those insights encourage healthy viewing habits, significantly reducing the risk of myopia in children and helping all users avoid digital eyestrain.

Time in Daylight

If you have an Apple Watch running watchOS 10, the ambient light sensor is used to estimate time spent outdoors each day. Spending at least 20 minutes in daylight each day can have “numerous physical and mental health benefits,” including reducing eye strain and ramping up vitamin D production to support your immune system.

To see your personal daylight data, open the Health app to the Browse tab. Tap Mental Wellbeing and scroll down to Time in Daylight.

Screen distance

Another risk factor for eye health is viewing things from too close, especially screens. iPhones and iPads with a TrueDepth camera – that’s any model that uses Face ID – can be set to automatically detect a user’s viewing distance, showing an “iPhone is too close” warning alert when holding the screen closer than 12 inches (30cm) for an extended period of time.

This feature is off by default, and bear in mind it could drain your battery a little faster than usual – though in our testing, nothing too significant.

To switch it on, open the Settings app and navigate to the Screen Time section. Tap Screen Distance, then Continue. Make sure it’s toggled on.

Looking after the family

For kids, the impact of these risk factors is even higher. The International Myopia Institute recommends children spend at least 80-120 minutes a day outdoors, and if your kid is lucky enough to own their own Apple Watch – even if they don’t have an iPhone – you can keep tabs on their Time in Daylight via Family Sharing.

Go to Settings > Screen Time > Set Up Screen Time for Family to start tracking.