Electronic glasses change your view with ease
A new kind of prescription eyeglasses could have you wondering if you're seeing into the future. With just a swipe, wearers of EmPower electronic glasses can turn their reading prescription on or off. "I switched optometrists to get these glasses," Steve Zoldos, 57, of Clearwater, said of the EmPower glasses he bought in mid-September. Zoldos has an eye condition common to those over 40: presbyopia. Part of the natural aging process, a person's eyes start to lose the ability to focus and see things up close, making it hard to see a map, for instance, or a restaurant menu. Most end up pulling on a pair of drugstore "readers," then take them off again to see the person they're talking to.Those who wear traditional progressive lenses to deal with the problem sometimes complain that their vision is blurred or distorted when they turn their head too quickly or when looking down at the ground. "To be able to play golf or walk down stairs without that blurry portion there is to me something that I don't have to adapt to anymore," Zoldos said. The EmPower glasses are made with the same liquid crystal technology used on your LCD television, said company spokesman Gary Davis. In the natural state, the crystals lie parallel to the lens; in an activated state, they become perpendicular. "It gives you enough difference in terms of bending light that it gives you extra read power," Davis said. The glasses have two settings: manual and automatic. You can swipe the side of the frame to activate the readers, or let the glasses sense the movement in the tilt of your head to determine whether or not to activate the readers. The accelerometer technology was born out of rocket-guiding principals and is similar to the shifting screen on an iPhone or iPad Virginia-based company PixelOptics debuted the eyewear to geeks and gadget lovers at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the glasses are gradually being released in doctor's offices across the country, starting in the Southeast, Davis said. About 10 doctor's offices in the Bay area carry EmPower glasses, and more will have them by the end of December. Optometrist Nathan Bonilla-Warford, owner of Bright Eyes Family Vision in Westchase, says the EmPower eyeglasses he sells may help ease the queasiness that many bifocal or progressive lens wearers get from the "swim" of having two prescriptions on one lens. "Once people learn how to turn on and off the reading portion, I think that the rest of the adaptation is a piece of cake," Bonilla-Warford said. Edgar Espana, an eye surgeon and assistant professor of opthamalogy at the University of South Florida, says the science behind the glasses is sound. "I think that anybody that has the money to pay for these glasses may benefit from this technology," Espana said. But, he said, "I don't think they are more effective than traditional bifocal, progressive or trifocal lenses." At $1,350 a pop, they're an investment, but Zoldos said they're worth the money. "I definitely will never go back to regular progressives. To me, these glasses are going to last me several years," he said. "And I'll be spreading the cost over those several years."
Visit www.lifeactivated.com to find an EmPower retailer near you.
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