Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Technology adds new dimension to prescription eyeglasses

Get ready to see new technology designed for those who wear prescription eyeglasses.

About 64 percent of Americans wear glasses to improve vision. Many can't stand them, complaining that glasses are cumbersome or don't work in all situations. Meanwhile, the growing amount of time people spend in front of computers and mobile devices has also raised concern about potential damaging effects on eyesight.

One area of focus has been on reducing that eyestrain. Many optometrists believe the light emitted from such devices could damage a viewer's eyesight over time, although that hasn't been conclusively proven.

VSP Optics Group this year introduced its Unity with BluTech lenses at 30,000 eye doctor offices in the U.S.

BluTech lenses are infused with melanin, a natural pigment found in the iris of the eye, to help filter out high-energy blue light and UVA/UVB radiation while allowing what VSP Optics Group president Don Oakley called "innocuous" light to pass through.

Oakley said BluTech lenses reduce eyestrain and fatigue from long hours spent in front of the computer. Adding BluTech lenses to a pair of glasses is typically less than $100; they can be worn indoors and outdoors and can also be added to nonprescription glasses.

He cautioned that BluTech "doesn't prevent anything per se but it protects."

Another firm is encouraging people to use mobile devices to improve their vision.

GlassesOff Inc. is gearing up to launch an iPhone app this year that it claims can enhance near-vision sharpness. The company contends that human vision is based on two main factors: the quality of an image captured by the eyes and the image-processing capabilities of the brain as it interprets the image.

By spending 12 to 15 minutes a day, three times a week for three months completing a gamelike program, GlassesOff says, a user can improve the image-processing function by teaching the brain to better interpret blurred images.

The app is tailored for each individual and adapts according to his or her progress; the goal is to wean a viewer off reading glasses altogether.

The notion that people can improve their eyesight through eye exercises has drawn skepticism from some optometrists and ophthalmologists.

But in a paper published in Scientific Reports, the scientists behind GlassesOff said participants in a study at the University of California at Berkeley showed a nearly 10-year improvement in eye age.

In the past few years, one of the new lens technologies that has gained the most traction is adjustable-focus eyeglasses.

The glasses are intended for people afflicted by presbyopia, an aging condition that affects the eye's ability to focus on close objects, and are made by a handful of companies, including Van Nuys, Calif., company Superfocus and Britain's Adlens.

Superfocus' adjustable-focus glasses feature fluid-filled lenses and a slider on the nose bridge. Users can manually adjust their lenses by moving the slider, which changes the focus of the lens and eliminates the need to switch between multiple pairs of glasses or the use of bifocals or progressives.

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