The International Vision Expo kicks off today in New York City, showcasing cutting-wedge eyewear technology coming to the market in 2011.
More than 149 million adults wear eyeglasses. And while one pair of glasses may seem like one too many, often, that's simply not enough.
An estimated 50 million Americans carry multiple pairs of specs, since one might be needed for reading, another for working, a third for driving, and yet another for just watching TV.
"Early Show" contributor Taryn Winter Brill reported it's often caused by a condition called presbyopia.
Optometrist Dr. Terri Haberman explained, "Presbyopia is something that occurs to people over age 40. You lose your ability to see up-close, little by little. And then when you hit age 40, you run out of arm."
But a new all-in-one technology is emerging. "Superfocus" glasses change the strength of their liquid lenses, enabling you to see different distances by moving a tiny, adjustable lever.
And while the superfocus glasses were met with an overwhelming response for their function, they received mixed reviews for their style.
One person interviewed by Brill said, "Looks like I'm a kid all over again. Who is that, Harry Potter?"
But Superfocus glasses are hardly the only new ones being rolled out.
On "The Early Show," Justin Bazan, optometrist and spokesperson for The Vision Council, focused on some other new eyeglasses about to hit the market.
What are some of the major trends we're going to be seeing?
Bazan said, "Over the next year, there are going to be big developments happening in eyewear. Before, we were just talking about glasses that had the ability to see things at a certain focal point. This year, we're seeing dynamic lenses with the ability to auto-focus on things. They're going to revolutionize and change things in the coming years."
He continued, "As an optometrist, this is huge news because we have premium products coming out that are going to solve a multitude of issues in people's lives. It's also going to make practicing more fun because we'll have several options available to the people that consult with us."
Bazan weighed in on the following glasses advancements -- including the Superfocus glasses Brill tried out.
Superfocus glasses: The Superfocus is a new piece of eyewear tech that allows you to customize your prescription for whatever you're looking at. There's a little slider built into the glasses that allows you to focus or fine tune the things you're looking at. You've no more need for other glasses with progressive lenses in a small zone of the glass. This is a whole pair of glasses that allows you to change the prescription at the push of a slider. They're built around your regular distance prescription and you can modify it depending upon where you're looking. Right now, the technology is limited to a circle frame because as the lens is flexed (by turning the dial), the flexing has to be uniform and a circular shape is the best way to do that. Pricewise, they're about 30 percent more than the lenses we see out there today.
emPower glasses: The emPower glasses are super as well and are empowered by a little electrical impulse that excites a certain area on the lens allowing it to change its focus. The lens technology itself utilizes a multifocal technology that allows you to see all the way down the street, but then with the touch of a hand or a tilt of your head, allows you to read up close. There's a power supply built into the frame itself and a charge should last between two and three days. The beauty of the emPower lens and what separates it from the Superfocus glasses is that the lenses can be cut into a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Like the Superfocus, emPower glasses are expected to run about 30 percent more than a regular pair of glasses, but they've been approved for coverage by insurance companies, so people won't have to worry about paying full price.
Switch Vision Boreal glasses: The Switch Vision Boreal glasses are for people who need different sets of glasses for different activities. Their slogan is "See right in every light." Changing the lenses in your glasses can not only enhance their fashion, but their function as well. A green lens is recommended for playing baseball and golf as it enhances the baseball and golf ball against the green background. (There's yellow tint for skiing, orange/amber for trails, etc.) Different lenses enhance your performance in different sports. What makes these glasses so great is how easily you can switch the lenses out. They're the first of their kind and are magnetically interchangeable. If you have a prescription, you can use an insert on the inside of the lens. They take your basic prescription and allow them to be inserted right into the frame. They'll cost between $119 to $189.
Columbia Interchangeable glasses: The Columbia Interchangeable concept is that one pair of glasses can be turned into several pairs of glasses simply by changing the "temples." (Columbia isn't using the word frames, but is introducing this new word.) One temple can be straight black that you wear to work, but then you can swap it out for something more colorful. These glasses will run you about $275.
Transitions glasses: Transitions have been around for regular glasses and have adjusted their lens by adapting to changes in light. They'd start clear and then end up dark if light intensity increased. SOLFX are the first light-sensitive sunglasses to come to the market. Their level of darkness will actually change depending upon the amount of light they're exposed to. Initially, they're being sold by Callaway and Oakley who usually run a couple of hundred bucks a pair. The technology used for Transitions sunwear is the same as the technology used for Transitions everyday photochromic lenses - it's the market that's changed and pointed to a clear opportunity for Transitions. SOLFX is the result of recent consumer trends toward customization of products (they are activity-specific sunwear products) and the growing market for sport-specific performance enhancing products. For example, there are hundreds of running shoes on the market today, when 10-15 years ago the running market was dominated by a few select brands.
Consumers are looking more and more for products that will help them play/perform better at the activities they love. These products fit perfectly into that trend.
PURE glasses by Legacie: Some people always complain about how heavy their glasses are or that they don't fit right. Legacie was determined to come up with a pair of glasses that would be stronger but remain light, so they took this new alloy, Xandium, and made a strong thread that's treaded through the glasses as a frame. It's as close to having lenses floating in space over your head. You hardly even notice them on your ears and face. The frame is super flexible and has memory so it pops right back into place upon bending. Because the alloy is relatively new, they'll run you about $275.
Gunnar OPTIKS: Gunnar Optiks has figured out what most of us already know. Starting at computers is tough and causes eye strain. Our eyes aren't built for it first, because we sit so close to them. Second, because we concentrate on the light and tend not to blink. Finally, pixels are hard to focus on. So, they developed Gunnar Optiks Indoor, which are built for wearing while you're using a computer. Gunnar Optiks help reduce the symptoms of eye strain, plus they're inexpensive and run about $75 to $100.
LightSpecs by Foster Grant: They remind me of DJ glasses. People trying to read small print in the dark usually have a tough time until they turn on some light. These glasses have some high-powered LEDs built right into the frame. They're great for people reading in bed who don't want to turn on a lamp. Plus, they're really inexpensive and you can pick up a pair for about $25 at a local drug store.
MODO Eco Glasses: My practice is in a very green neighborhood and people are very conscious of the environment. A new trend among people is purchasing vintage frames instead of new ones. Now, instead of having to do that, MODO has a new line of Eco glasses that are actually made out of recycled materials. With Eco glasses, you're getting a pair of glasses on its second life. Plus, rather than using huge plastic cases, MODO ships its glasses in sturdy, corrugated cardboard. You can also mail your old pair in to get recycled into a new pair of glasses. And, the kicker is that for every pair of glasses they sell, they're going to plant a tree. Prices range from $150 to $250 dollars.
For more information on the Vision Council, visit: www.thevisioncouncil.org/cbsearlyshow.