We’ve all heard that screens aren’t good for your eyes. So it might not be too surprising to hear that many Vision Pro users have complained about eye strain. (After all, the headset does use two 4K screens, one in front of each eyeball.) However, these are common complaints from overall VR usage and experts say it isn’t something to freak out over.

“Despite what many people believe, sitting too close to the TV does not damage your eyes. Screens ruining your eyes is another myth,” says Dr. Arvind Saini, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

If you peruse VR subreddits, not just the Apple Vision Pro one, that can be hard to believe. You’ll often find people complaining that their eyes “hurt like hell,” are irritated or even bloodshot. However, Saini says that these are all temporary symptoms likely caused by people not blinking enough while using the devices. As for symptoms like dizziness and nausea, Saini says that’s because when you view an image in motion, it sends the same signals to your brain as if you were actually in motion — even if you’re standing still.

Eye strain can also be caused by something called the vergence-accommodation conflict. In the real world, when you look at an object, the focal point and physical distance to that object is the same. In VR, depth is simulated — so distance of your eye to the physical screen and the thing you’re focusing on in the virtual world can be mismatched. That causes your eye muscles to fatigue.

“Although these symptoms can sometimes be uncomfortable, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that any digital screens, including a tool like VR devices, are harmful to eye health.”

But what about some of the more alarming VR headset claims involving redness and hemorrhaging in the eye? Saini says that those, too, are not dangerous to your vision. These are called subconjunctival hemorrhage, and while scary looking, they’re generally harmless and heal on their own. They can be caused by quick pressure changes (i.e., sneezing or coughing), which can pop the capillaries in your eyes, or by eye trauma.

“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that any digital screens, including a tool like VR devices, are harmful to eye health.”

“Screen use or VR use itself cannot cause subconjuctival hemorrhage,” says Saini. However, he says that VR (or other screen usage) can indirectly cause blood vessels to burst if you’re constantly rubbing your eyes to deal with screen-related dry eye.

Screens — VR or otherwise — aren’t going anywhere. If anything, big tech seems increasingly convinced that AR is the future. Given that, the eye pain they cause can’t be ignored. So, VR companies have taken a relatively conservative approach in advising how people use their devices.

For example, most VR headset makers warn that their devices are not for children under 13 years old. This is partly because they’re not designed for smaller bodies and also because children’s eyes are still developing. For example, Meta’s Quest compliance page notes that “Children’s bodies tend to be less developed, so their eyes, necks, backs and strength may not yet allow them to use Meta Quest comfortably or safely.” This is even though there isn’t conclusive evidence, or enough research done yet, to say whether using the headset negatively impacts children’s vision.

But even if your overall vision isn’t at stake, it doesn’t change the fact that VR can make your eyes hurt. There are, however, things you can do to mitigate that. A lot of it is common sense. Apple’s Vision Pro support page recommends easing into the device, taking breaks every 20-30 minutes when starting out. It also emphasizes getting the best possible fit. Meta’s compliance page says the same, adding that experts say children should be limited to two hours per day. Saini recommends following the 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes, you should take a 20 second break and look 20 feet off into the distance. And if all else fails, you can always invest in some eye drops.

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