I bought ZEISS optical inserts for Apple Vision Pro — here’s a complete guide of how you can too

The packaging next to Zeiss Optical inserts beside Apple Vision Pro.
(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

Apple Vision Pro, the first mixed-reality headset from Apple, features one of the highest-resolution display systems money can buy. But for people with vision correction needs, those brilliant displays — sporting resolutions of 4K per eye — will end up looking dull and blurry. 

Apple thought of this, and has partnered with ZEISS to offer custom optical inserts for Vision Pro at $150 a pop. However, the purchase process isn't as simple as walking into an Apple Store and picking up a fresh pair of lenses. There are plenty of nuances and caveats, and some advanced optical prescriptions are flat-out unsupported. 

After purchasing a pair of optical inserts for my Apple Vision Pro, I've compiled this guide that includes everything you need to know about vision correction on the headset. 

You can start with a demo at an Apple retail store

Apple Vision Pro demo appointment - lensometer machine with prescription for Zeiss lens inserts

(Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / Future)

The first step might be to head to your own Apple Store for a one-on-one Vision Pro demo, an experience that iMore's own Karen S. Freeman detailed. It's completely free and you can sign up for a reserved timeslot right in the Apple Store app. This is what will give you the best idea of what using Vision Pro with optical inserts is like. 

Surprisingly, Apple has a bunch of ZEISS optical inserts on-hand, and can provide you with the ones you need for the demo. The retail employees use a lensometer to gauge your prescription just by scanning your glasses. I handed mine over, received my loaner set of ZEISS optical inserts, and proceeded with the demo. Again, to my surprise, the optical inserts I used in-store were crystal clear — perfectly matching my fairly advanced eye prescription.

After finishing the demo, Apple will give you the chance to buy Apple Vision Pro for yourself, assuming your store has the light seal and headset in stock. If you need reader optical inserts, retail employees told me that you can buy those in-store immediately. However, people requiring a prescription will need to wait 7-10 days for ZEISS to cut and ship your custom optical inserts.

How to check if your prescription is supported

The check prescription page for Zeiss optical inserts.

(Image credit: Zeiss)

If you require optical inserts, but are skeptical that your prescription is supported, there's a handy tool on ZEISS' official website that can help. You can manually type in the details from your prescription and ZEISS will tell you whether it will work with optical inserts. Notably, people with high cylinder values or any prism value will be unable to get ZEISS optical inserts.

Keep in mind that while this tool will let you enter your prescription as plain text, you will need a verified prescription to be uploaded when it's time to order. Here are some things to remember:

  • You need an eyeglass prescription to order optical inserts. Contact lens prescriptions will not be accepted, and neither will prescriptions for task-specific uses, like office or computer glasses
  • The prescription must not be expired. Generally, eyeglass prescriptions in the U.S. are valid for one year, but it can vary by state
  • The prescription needs to include your full legal name
  • The prescription must have a doctor's signature and information present, which might include their name, address, or license number

It's a good idea to check that your prescription is supported on the website before ordering optical inserts. That's because ZEISS may deny your prescription if it misreads your prescription's details when it is uploaded. It will be easier to determine whether your prescription is actually unsupported, or if there has been an error, if you manually verify the details beforehand.

The ordering process for ZEISS optical inserts

A custom engraving on optical inserts on Apple Vision Pro.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

If you've decided that you want to buy Apple Vision Pro and need optical inserts, it's time to place an order. You can do so either online, in the Apple Store app, or in-store. Regardless, Apple will send you a link via email to upload your prescription to ZEISS. 

While the medium by which you order ZEISS optical inserts doesn't impact the process, you should buy the optical inserts in the same transaction as your Vision Pro. Apple scans your face to find your light seal size when you purchase Vision Pro. One factor that is taken into account when sizing your light seal is whether you use optical inserts.

If you decide to purchase optical inserts after you buy Vision Pro, you might require a new light seal — and those cost $200 apiece. People within the Vision Pro return window might be able to swap their light seal out for free, but it's a hassle. We recommend ordering optical inserts when you buy Vision Pro for this reason. 

The questions for optical inserts on Vision Pro.

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

To purchase optical inserts, you'll be asked a series of questions about your vision. These include whether you wear glasses or contacts, what kind you wear, what you use them for, and whether you require prism lenses. 

You can also add a custom engraving for free, and it won't delay your shipping time. I added my name on the lenses just for the heck of it. 

Emails for optical inserts for Vision Pro.

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

After that, you'll get an email with instructions on how to purchase or upload your prescription. If you bought Vision Pro in-store, you'll need to purchase optical inserts separately online. If you've already purchased optical inserts online, you'll only need to upload your eye prescription.

Pairing the ZEISS optical inserts to Apple Vision Pro

Magnetically-attaching optical inserts to Apple Vision Pro.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

Once you've received your ZEISS optical inserts in the mail, the last thing left to do is connect and pair them to your Vision Pro. Luckily, it's a fairly simple process. First, simply attach the optical inserts by placing them on the Vision Pro lenses. They'll snap in place automatically with magnets.

Look at code to pair Vision Pro inserts.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

During the initial setup process, there will be an option to add optical inserts. Select this by clicking the Digital Crown. Then, a prompt will appear asking you to look at the code that came with your inserts.

The pairing code for optical inserts on Apple Vision Pro.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

Once properly scanned, you'll see a confirmation checkmark when the pairing has completed. After that, you will be asked to re-do eye tracking with the optical inserts installed. 

The checkmark when optical inserts have been paired.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

Once you finish the eye tracking calibration, you're all set to start using Apple Vision Pro with optical inserts. You can view your optical inserts in the Eyes & Hands menu in the Settings app on Apple Vision Pro at any time. 

Eyes & Hands in Vision Pro settings.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

This menu is also how you can set up optical inserts after the initial Vision Pro setup process. Simply tap Set Up New Optical Inserts to begin. 

What if you need to return them?

A box for Zeiss optical inserts next to the actual inserts.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Future)

By this point, you should be off to the races using Apple Vision Pro with optical inserts. If, for some reason, you need to return your optical inserts, it is possible to do so via Apple's online store within 14 days. However, note that ZEISS optical inserts are one of the few Apple products that cannot be returned in-store. 

Optical inserts are a must for anyone with vision correction needs, and although they come at an additional cost, they do add unique value. If you end up scratching or damaging your optical insert, they're only $150 to replace rather than a thousand-dollar-plus repair. In all, buying and installing optical inserts for Vision Pro is a fairly simple process, besides the lengthy wait. 


Brady is a tech journalist contributing to iMore as a freelancer. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in New York City with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.

  • gian posatiere
    Just a warning to anyone buying the inserts they may not work even if they were approved if they are on the edge of the approval range.