Electronic eyeglasses adjust to your vision needs

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PHOENIX – It seems like everything is going electronic, and now you can add eyeglasses to the ever growing list of gadgets.

Rick Mark of Pixel Optics gave Tara Hitchcock the lowdown on emPower eyeglasses, which are designed to give you extra power for reading when you need it. They’re essentially bifocals or progressive lenses on microchips.

With bifocals and progressives, the lenses that magnify things for read blur things that are further away when the wearer looks down.

The emPower! glasses are designed specifically to deal with the problem.

“It allows the patient the freedom to actually control their eyewear,” Mark said.

There is a layer of liquid crystals embedded in the lenses that adjust to give you a near-focus zone for reading whenever you need it. A simple touch to the side of the frame turns it off and on. There’s also an automatic mode that adjusts the focus based on up and down movements of your head.

The wearer will see a quick tiny flash when the extra reading power is electronically engaged, but it’s not something anybody else will notice. The focus adjustment from distance lenses to reading lenses is practically instantaneous.

Because you're in control of the near-focus zone, you don't have to deal with it at all when you don't need it. Walking down stairs is an exampled. With traditional progressive lenses, the stairs closest to you, including the one you'll be stepping on next, will be blurry while the steps that are far away will appear clear. With emPower! glasses, that would not be an issue because you'd simply turn off the near-focus.

Like any gadget, emPower! glasses to require charging, but a single overnight charge can last for two of three days.

“People with technology and gadgets … are in the habit of doing things like charging up every night,” Mark said.

If the batteries do run down, it’s not catastrophic. You’ll still be able to see things at intermediate and far distances, but you won’t be able to engage the near-focus zone for reading.

The glasses will be an investment. They’ll cost in the range of $1,250, Mark said.

“Your vision is everything,” he said. “For those of us who have struggled with progressive lenses and having to have that plus power on all the time, [emPower is a great solution]”

Mark said golfers especially will appreciate emPower! glasses because they can turn off the extra power, giving them a clear, crisp view of their shot, and then turn it back on when it’s time to jot down their score or make a short putt.

“Our technology represents the single most significant advancement in prescription eyewear in the last 50 years,” reads the Pixel Optics website.

While emPower! eyewear isn’t available here yet, the electronic glasses will arrive in Phoenix in early to mid October. Mark said the distribution will be limited. About 10 to 12 doctors will have the glasses.

For more information, visit www.empowereyewear.com or www.pixeloptics.com.