Adjustable electronic eyeglasses for clear viewing at all distances – far and near – may be the wave of the future. For most people in their forties or above, bifocals or progressive lenses are used to focus on objects that are of close range.
Some individuals are not able to accommodate to bifocals or progressive lenses and use separate glasses for distance and reading. The line in a bifocal may be cosmetically unappealing to some people, or difficulty looking down when wearing a bifocal or progressive lens may be too challenging.
A single pair of a new version of adjustable electronic eyeglasses may overcome the limitations imposed by traditional lenses. New versions of electronic eyeglasses use transparent liquid crystals that are controlled by a programmable microprocessor. These crystals change the refractive index of a lens when activated. Changing the refractive index of a lens also changes the prescription of a lens. The microprocessor is activated in milliseconds by movement by a device called an accelerometer or a sensor on the earpiece (temple) that responds to a manual touch. An accelerometer can be activated by tilting the head down and deactivated when the head is raised. Each temple earpiece has a battery and microprocessor that activates a liquid crystal arrangement in the lower portion of each lens in the eyeglasses. When not activated, the lens acts as a single vision lens for either mid-range or far distance viewing.
Several companies have joined the fray to develop and manufacture electronic eyeglasses. A Virginia company called PixelOptics, founded by entrepreneur Ronald Blum, are already selling adjustable electronic eyeglasses in California using the brand name emPower. Blum’s primary patent 8,029,134 incorporating liquid crystal polymers on blank lenses was issued in October 2011.
PixelOptics liquid crystal lenses are available in a wide range of shapes, styles, and prescriptions. Currently, prescriptions with a spherical power from -7.00 to +4.00 are suitable for liquid crystal lenses. Astigmatism up to -4.00 can also be within the range of a liquid crystal lenses. The high-index plastic blank lenses utilized by PixelOptics are manufactured by Panasonic. These lenses also have the advantage of not adding significant weight to the lenses. The PixelOptics electronic glasses are expected to retail for about $1,250. The retail price of PixelOptics lenses are expected to effectively compete with high-end designer eyeglasses in the same price range.
Superfocus, another company that produces adjustable eyeglasses in based in Southern California. The Superfocus eyeglasses work when a wearer slides a mechanism on the bridge of the eyeglasses. This maneuver changes the shape of a thin, flexible membrane that is filled with an optical fluid. Sliding the mechanism alters the shape of the membrane to change the optical property of the lens. Lenses made by Superfocus are currently available only as round shape.
Most prescriptions can be available with liquid crystal lens technology. One inherent drawback is the fact that internal batteries must be periodically recharged. The battery is hidden within the temple earpiece and can be turned off to preserve battery life. A single charge is expected to last anywhere between one to three days. Also the temple earpieces cannot be tightened or altered in position since this may damage the internal electronics. The plastic bridge should never be heat treated for the same reason and tinting of the lens is not advised since that would interfere with the liquid crystals.
Adjustable electronic eyeglasses are one of latest innovations in eyewear. Light-adjustable technology for intraocular lenses have also been invented that correct vision for near and far after cataract surgery. As new technology becomes available, the future is in sight for exciting new developments in adjustable electronic eyeglasses.