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Apple's myopia-focused health feature is now available

This is editorially independent content
2 min read

Less than 6 months after first revealing its new mental and vision health features for the three of its digital devices, Apple’s “Screen Distance” function is officially accessible for users.

Refresh me on these features first.

The company’s health and wellness tools are designed to support healthy behaviors, including a first for Apple: reducing the risk for myopia.

Read our coverage on all the new features here.

Focus on this myopia aspect.

Apple is highlighting the global impact and long-term visual consequences of myopia among the current and future population (affecting an estimated 30% of people today vs an estimated 50% by 2050).

The company referred to two behaviors recommended among eyecare professionals (ECPs) for reducing the risk of myopia in pediatric and adolescent patients:

  • Spending time outdoors
  • Increasing the visual distance of near activities

Gotcha. Now talk about this Screen Distance function.

Similar to the TrueDepth camera that enables Face ID on an iPhone, the Screen Distance function is designed to encourage users to move the device further away from their face after they hold it <12 inches away for an extended amount of time.

The goal: to remind younger users to adopt healthy viewing habits (thus, potentially reducing the risk for myopia progression) and for adults to reduce digital eye strain.

How does it do this, exactly?

When a user holds their device too close to their face, an alert will appear that will prevent them from viewing the screen.

To remove the alert, according to Apple, a user must move their device greater than 12 inches away from their face and tap “continue” on the screen.

So which Apple products are these new features available on?

  • iOS 17
  • iPadOS 17

And how do I turn the feature on?

For younger users (under age 13) using an updated device (iPhone with iOS 17 or an iPad with iPadOS 17), the Screen Distance feature can be turned on by default in a Family Sharing group. This feature will be available in the latest software update, according to Apple support.

It can be turned on/off via the device settings, as seen here (click for a visual).