December 5, 2011

Electronic Eye Wear is Coming to the Quad Cities

By Mike Snell
Eye Surgeons Associates

A new device is joining smartphones, iPads and music players: electronic eyeglasses. Arriving in late November, Eye Surgeons will be the first and only optical department in the Quad-Cities to offer emPower! eyeglasses, the biggest optical advance in over 50 years.

People who are farsighted or nearsighted and around the age of 40, begin having difficulty with up-close, or reading, vision (called presbyopia). They may buy bifocals or no-line progressive lenses to see 20/20 today. But as these glasses wearers know, they have a drawback: the lenses that magnify fine print also blur objects more than an arm’s length away when a wearer looks down, distorting the view when on a staircase, for example, or when swinging at a golf ball. emPower! eyeglasses fix that. You can turn the reading power off to hit the golf ball, and back on to read the score card, alleviating the blur or distortion associated with progressive lenses and bifocals. To call up reading power in the new glasses, users touch the side of the frame. Batteries in the frame send along a current that changes the orientation of molecules in the crystals of the lens. Touch the side of the frame again, and the reading power disappears. emPower! function both as mid- to far-range glasses and as readers.

emPower! eyeglasses include: a microchip, composite lenses with a thin transparent LCD-like layer, miniature rechargeable batteries, and a micro-machine accelerometer to detect tilt. The microchip, micro-accelerometer, and miniature batteries are hidden inside the temples of the eyeglass frames. The transparent liquid crystal layer in each lens is able to electronically activate the reading portion when the wearer needs it. Turning the reading portion on or off happens virtually instantaneously. There are no visible moving parts or noises. Wearers can operate the glasses in three different modes: manual on, automatic and manual off. emPower! eyeglasses look and feel like designer eyeglasses, with 36 different frames. They are shock resistant and waterproof. One charge of the battery allows for two to three days of operation.

PixelOptics, the creator of emPower!, is rolling the eyeglasses out one region at a time. Starting in late November, Eye Surgeons will carry emPower in the Bettendorf office. In December, they’ll be available in our Rock Island and Silvis offices. You’re welcome to come in for a demonstration.

Mike Snell has 22 years of optical experience and has been Eye Surgeons Associates Optical Director since 2006. He is an American Board of Opticianry-Certified Optician and a Fellow of the National Academy of Opticianry. For more information go to