By the time we reach age 45, most of us will need reading glasses to browse the newspaper in the morning. You go from reading everything perfectly clear, to performing a daily, never-ending manhunt for your spectacles that are usually found atop your head. This is because our eyes change with age. Although you may see 20/20 now, that quality of sight can decay the longer you live.
If you're already a glasses wearer, you know that they are not always the most stylish or convenient accessory. Many people resort to wearing contacts, only to have their eye doctor change their prescription every couple years. It's annoying and frustrating to say the least. Well, researchers at the University of Utah may have found a solution to this problem with a new product -- smart glasses.
The glasses feature a liquid lens that can automatically adjust to the wearer's focus, and shift when the wearer changes focus from one thing to another. For example, if you go from looking at the newspaper to looking at a far-away billboard, the glasses can adjust accordingly.
“The major advantage of these smart eyeglasses is that once a person puts them on, the objects in front of the person always show clear, no matter at what distance the object is,” says Carlos Mastrangelo, the electrical and computer engineering professor who led the research.
The revolutionary lens is made of glycerin, a thick clear liquid that is then enclosed in a flexible membrane. The lens is then set in a frame containing a distance meter, which will measure how far from the wearer's face an object is using infrared light. That meter then sends a signal to the lens, and it curves accordingly so the wearer can see that object clearly.
The glasses come with a smartphone app, where the wearer will enter data about their normal eyeglass prescription and calibrate the glasses accordingly via Bluetooth. If you get a new prescription, you can update the app at anytime and the glasses will adjust. Translation: you don't need to buy a new pair of eyeglasses every time your prescription changes.
The glasses have yet to be formally tested, but Mastrangelo and his colleagues have worn them around their office and they work well. The prototype is pretty large at the moment -- think Doc's glasses in "Back to the Future" -- but once some adjustments are made they could be ready for market in two to three years.