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High-Tech eyeglasses ... but they’re not made by Google

NYT/ AFR | July 11, 2013
The truth is, though, that 2013 has been the Year of the High-Tech Glasses in other, quieter ways. At least three new eyeglass technologies have arrived.

The third Adlens style, Emergensee ($US40), is slightly more conventional-looking. Its adjustment knobs are much smaller and less conspicuous. They stay on, so you can always adjust the focus.

These glasses don't have liquid inside; instead, each lens has two panes that slide past each other when you turn the knobs, so they still look a little odd. But Adlens promotes them as an ideal spare pair for the glove compartment or kitchen drawer.

The best, Adlens says, is yet to come. This fall, it will offer liquid-lens technology, for the first time, in normally shaped, designerlike frames. Stay tuned.

O2Amp makes tinted-lens glasses for the medical profession. According to the company, these glasses give doctors a "clearer view of veins and vasculature, bruising, cyanosis, pallor, rashes, erythema, and other variations in blood O2 level, and concentration," especially in bright light.

But the purplish pair, the Oxy-Iso ($US302), has an unintended side effect, the Web site says: they "may cure red-green colorblindness."

Oxy-Iso glasses

I just about hit the ceiling when I read that. Like about 8 per cent of the male population, I'm colour blind; I have severe red-green colorblindness. That is, I see far less red and green than you do. I can't tell blue from purple, or green from brown. And I fail miserably on those colorblindness tests where you try to see hidden numbers among colored dots (Ishihara plates).

Unfortunately, the Oxy-Iso glasses did nothing for me. I still failed the Ishihara tests.

"We do have about one or two in 20 that don't get any benefit, and it's due to their colorblindness being too severe," the inventor wrote to me. "What our technology does is amplify weak red-green sensitivity. But if there's basically no red-green sensitivity at all, then there's nothing to amplify."

If the Amazon reviews are any indication, these glasses do permit many colorblind buyers to distinguish colors for the first time.

But the company notes that the Oxy-Iso filter amplifies the red-green discriminations "at the expense of their intact yellow-blue discrimination. In a sense, the Oxy-Iso spreads the color confusion more evenly around the color wheel." That's why you shouldn't wear them for driving, because "yellow lights will become nearly invisible."

But if you're red-green colorblind, and it's worth $US300 to be able to distinguish colors for the first time, you should try them. You get your money back if they don't help you.

Nothing is more design-dependent, fit-dependent or person-dependent than glasses. And few things make a bigger difference to your looks. That's why most people buy glasses at a store, trying on pair after pair in a mirror, accompanied by trusted friends or family.


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