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Augmented Reality & Proximity to the Eyes

August 18, 2017

Augmented Reality & Proximity to the Eyes

According to Business Insider, the trend is already arising to replace the computer screens we are so used to using with augmented reality devices. Augmented reality is created from a device that superimposes a user interface over the existing field of vision. This differs from virtual reality which creates a totally new visual environment. Silicon Valley company Meta is currently conducting internal tests on their Meta 2 AR headset by having their employees switch to doing all of their daily work on the headset rather than using their traditional computers. You can read more about the business of Meta and Business Insider’s review of their product here: (

While this is all well and good for providing a unique and potentially more intuitive or efficient working experience, it raises some serious flags from your PupilBox team. We know that three of the most important things you can do to protect your eyes from Digital Eye Strain and potential damage to the eyes are the following: 

  • Take a break! The 20/20/20 rule of looking at something 20 feet away from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes

  • Using productivity boosting and protective blue light filtering eyewear

  • Sitting a safe and ergonomic distance away from your screen.

The nature of an AR device, a headset, quickly dispatches the possibility of all three of these practices simply by being placed on the face. We would imagine that removing and donning an AR headset is not going to be as simple as taking a pair of glasses on and off, and certainly not as easy as glancing away from the screen. While we’d hope that eye-conscious employees would still practice the 20/20/20 rule in their AR machine by taking it on and off, it is unlikely that this would be widely adopted.

Even if an app similar to .flux or fadetop is produced for these AR headsets, our research has shown that simply reducing the amount of high energy light produced by the screens themselves is often not enough to prevent Digital Eye Strain (“DES”). Many office environments feature harsh fluorescent lighting which can be just as much of a contributing factor to DES as the screens themselves. This can only be combatted by moving the blue light filter as close to your eyes as possible-- in the form of glasses. Hopefully the Meta 2 can be worn with glasses underneath, but how would this affect the appearance of the screen to wear a blue filter that close to the AR display? Much of this may be a problem solved by Meta and the AR industry, but as it stands we are skeptical!

Last, and most important, is the fact that the display will be moved to only inches from your eyes. Even if the display is a lower output than a traditional computer screen the inverse square law of electromagnetic radiation tells us that proximity to the point source of light exponentially increase the energy fluence rate, colloquially called the beam intensity. By wearing a headset, this proximity would increase the intensity of a light source astronomically by moving it from 24-30 inches (average distance from a computer screen) to only 1-2 inches from the eyes. Further, in an office setting, a beam of energy emitted by a screen has the opportunity to be scattered and absorbed by other light sources in the room. By moving the source so close to the eyes and into a closed environment the opportunity for this scatter is greatly reduced.

While no definitive research has been done (yet-- you can count on us doing independent tests once we can get our hands on an AR headset!) it makes sense that these headsets may be detrimental to the health of our eyes and thus our productivity, possibly negating their initially intended purpose.



“Electromagnetic Radiation - FRCR Physics Notes.” Google Sites, Google,

Leswing, Kif. “People Are Already Replacing Their Desktop Computers with Smartglasses.”Business Insider, Business Insider, 25 July 2017,

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