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Peeking into the (not so distant) future of digital lens design


Everything physicians need to know about where personalized lenses are headed

Rochester, NY-Achieving the best visual experience for patients in today’s world-with ever-expanding technology, as well as environmental and lifestyle changes-may no longer be accomplished with only conventional prescription lenses.

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With recent-and forthcoming-advances and visual benefits in digital lenses, “it isn’t enough to provide a great refraction,” according to Brad Main, ABO.

Additionally, eye-care professionals will also need to understand the fitting parameters and the kind of benefits these new designs will deliver, explained Main, fellow in the National Academy of Opticianry, and education and training manager, Rochester Optical, Rochester, NY.

“Advanced digital lens designs and treatments should be prescribed for not only correcting, but protecting vision in the digital world,” he said.

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In addition, there are now medical reasons for why it is imperative to be current not only with lens designs, but also enhancement to these lenses, as they relate to ultraviolet and blue-light exposure to the eyes when using digital devices, such as tablets and computers, he explained.

Impact of digital strain, lifestyle

The millennial lifestyle and influx of digital strain over recent years have played a major role in advances in digital lens design, Main said.

“As we begin to understand more about the short- and long-term impact our electronic devices have on the visual system, product designs and/or enhancements come into the market to address these issues,” Main explained.

Next: Forthcoming advancements


“We know that use of smart glasses over extended periods can produce symptoms of eye strain, visual distress, and headaches-particularly when looking through conventional prescription lenses,” he said. “Device manufacturers did not take this into consideration in their product-design characteristics.”

Advances driven by these factors are already gearing up for market, with some available now.

Forthcoming advancements

Task-specific lens designing is becoming a hot area of interest, because it covers a wide variety of topics, such as computer use, mechanics with specific overhead gaze challenges, and astronauts in space, Main said.

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“We will see further personalization of lens designs to include more measurements and metrics considered to enhance the wearer’s visual experience and use of the lenses,” he added. “And don’t think that electronic focusing, polarizing, and photochromic lenses have been forgotten. They are in the not-too-distant future.”

Over the next 2 years, wearable technologies-including smart glasses-will attain “tremendous growth,” Main said.

“The word ‘wearables’ will be replaced by ‘invisibles,’ (as) less will certainly be more,” added Tim Moore, director of wearable technologies, Rochester Optical.

“Hands-free will be the determining factor for the consumer,” Moore said. “Young people are already growing tired of handheld, heads-down devices that have 4-inch screens.”

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Already, wearable devices that “project beautiful 42-inch, high-definition screens,” which are used for gaming, entertainment, and enterprise, are available for use now, Moore noted.

Additionally, smart eyewear-in the form of chic sunglasses and designer frames-will soon have embedded invisible technology, using next-generation waveguide lenses with SIM cards installed for easier migration.

Next: Look for Apple to try and beat Google


“This will be an invisible piece of technology wrapped as an elegant accessory that users will love,” Moore said. “Look for Apple and Samsung to continue to race to be the first to beat Google to this position by 2017-2018.”



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