The concept of computer technology that can create an artificial visual environment capable of manipulation by the user began firmly in the realm of applied science for niche groups—flight simulators and surgical training devices and the like—then was popularized by science fiction writers who imagined, and tantalized us with, all sorts of improbably fantastic scenarios.

At least two things have held back widespread adoption of virtual reality among the general public: first, the technology was nowhere near capable of delivering on what was in the popular imagination and, secondly, people look pretty ridiculous wearing the devices. I still remember laughing out loud in a theater 30 years ago for both those reasons as I watched Michael Douglas use VR goggles in the 1994 movie Disclosure.

But for the last decade, VR headsets have made good progress on tackling that first problem at least—the technology is pretty capable these days—and Apple’s launch of its own device earlier this month, called Apple Vision Pro, is sure to accelerate adoption. It’s too expensive (a whopping $3,500) and inessential right now to be a massive hit like the iPhone, but it’s on its way. Every new model will get more useful than the last, and eventually a lower-cost option will be introduced that puts these devices on millions of faces.

I bring this up because the visual consequences of this sort of screen use on mass populations are not well known yet. ODs will be getting more questions—and likely more complaints—from patients in the coming years. A big new report from the AOA calls out the dangers of unmitigated digital device use, noting that “31% of Americans exposed to excessive screen time did not see a doctor of optometry within the past 12 months, while 55% of this group reported the presence of vision-related symptoms that may be improved or resolved from regular visits” to an OD.

Do you think that will get better or worse as Apple’s headset puts two 4K screens mere inches from the wearer’s eyes? Even its mode that approximates augmented reality—where overlays of computer graphics float atop the “real” world—blasts the viewer with video passed through from the front of the device rather than showing their actual environment through clear lenses and layering digital images above it.

One novelty feature, which may very well get dropped in future releases because it’s so goofy, is an external screen that displays a simulated real-time rendering of the wearer’s eyes so other people in the room can feel like they’re making eye contact with the wearer. Apple calls it EyeSight. So, while wearing this device and having a conversation, you’re seeing the other person through a screen (but pretending you aren’t) and they’re seeing your eyes recreated on another screen but are supposed to feel like they’re actually looking you in the eye.

Enough already. Just take the damn thing off and talk face to face, geez.

 Either way, it’s worthwhile to get up to speed on Apple’s device so you can provide proper patient education. Wearers needing refractive correction will have to buy custom Zeiss lens inserts through Apple. Hopefully that will prompt a few routine exams from your more affluent patients? Here’s hoping. And, who knows, maybe Apple’s brand cachet will even make the notion of wearing high-tech ski goggles feel a little less silly.