Eyeglass Trends Lead to New Optometry Research, Information, and Technology

Anna-Leigh Firth

RENO, Nev. – Eyeglasses used to be a practical accessory used solely by the vision-challenged. Now they are a worldwide trend, whether worn to correct bad eyesight, or to make bold fashion statement. Today, Google Inc. began to take public online orders for its new Google Glass gadget.

Google Glass is a type of eyeglass, similar to a Smart Phone, which allows the consumer view the internet, access e-mail, data, applications, take pictures, record videos, translate languages, provide directions, and text messages.

Other companies that will be releasing similar smart glasses include Recon Instruments Inc., META Inc., and Vuzix Corp., to name a few.

Google Inc. published a blog post on their website announcing that the general public will be able to purchase Glass for a limited time on April 10, 2014.

“Next Tuesday, April 15th at 6am PDT, we’re opening up some spots in the Glass Explorer Program. Any adult in the US* can become an Explorer by visiting our site and purchasing Glass for $1500 + tax – and it now comes with your favorite shade or frame, thanks to feedback from our current Explorers.”

“Our Explorers are moms, bakers, surgeons, rockers, and each new Explorer has brought a new perspective that is making Glass better. But every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. So in typical Explorer Program fashion, we’re trying something new.”

Since thick-rimmed, wide-framed glasses are currently “hip” for many young adults, the new technology will only add to the allure of wearing glasses.

However, there are concerns with the safety of the high-tech displays built into the glasses.

“Nevada law already forbids the use of any handheld gadget while driving, this won’t be any different, it’s only a matter of time,” said Marian Tobey, a former Nevada DMV employee.

According to Reuters, an online news source, eight states including Illinois, Delaware, Missouri, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Wyoming are potentially going to pass laws to limit the use of Google Glass while driving.

Google posted a safety warning on its Glass website telling users to, “Read up and follow the law. Above all, even when you’re following the law, don’t hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road.”

Further safety laws and regulations will be crucial to the further expansion and development of the Smart Glasses market.

Google Inc. is still in the process of creating trendy looking Glass frames and accessories.

Today, eyeglasses being worn without lenses are a common fashion accessory. However, no-lens eye wear is already criticized by people who cannot see the practicality within it.

“In my opinion wearing glasses that are neither prescription nor ultra violet protective is completely unnecessary,” said John Bennett, a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno, who wears prescription lenses.

“I just walked into LensCrafters and picked out the first pair that I liked within five minutes.”

Despite the multitude of options, the expense of stylish glasses can steer potential customers away.

“To be perfectly honest with you, the mark up for sunglasses or any type of lens is ridiculous,” said Jason Hewitt, a LensCrafters Optometrist.

Although there are several different designers, colors, and types of glasses, one major company known as Luxottica owns the majority of eyewear brands.

Luxottica partnered with Google Inc. to collaborate on the frames for Google Glass.

Luxottica owns brands including LensCrafters, RayBans, Prada, Chanel, Dolce Gabbana, Versace, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, and Bulgari, to name a few.

“Luxottica is a monopoly. It is a multi-billion dollar company that owns over 80 percent of the world’s glasses and sunglasses. They control the price without any concern for supply and demand,” said Jose Grajeda, a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno.

However, there are many knock-off brands sold on websites and in major supermarkets that can correct your eyesight or improve your style for a small price.

“The really cheap maybe knockoffs of Raybans, usually they’re all made by Luxoticca. You can get them for five dollars and they are the exact same quality and type, but if you get them directly from the distributer, it’ll cost you about 350 dollars for a pair of sunglasses,” said Grajeda.

This Vision Council is a nonprofit organization that provides research, training, and events centered upon optical technology and information.

A consumer survey, conducted by the Vision Council, reviewed which factors are weighed more heavily for consumers purchasing frames.

The results indicated that price, location, convenience, and familiarity with a store or practitioner, were the most important variables taken into account on average.

However, the survey shows that about one-fourth of Americans believe that frame style is the most important factor.

16 million Americans have worn eyeglass frames without a prescription.

Furthermore, only 13 percent of consumers rated the quality of the frame provider as their primary deciding factor.

The frame quality itself depends on durability, material, fit, UV coating, and the color shade of the lens consistently affect sales.

“Lenses are specifically cut to the frame itself so each lens is specific to that frame and the person wearing it. So you can have lenses that range from a very simple plastic material to a very high end high definition tri-vex or high-index,” said Hewitt.

Glasses are showing up more and more in fashion magazines and on the runway.

Trending frames for females include cat eye shape glasses, thick rims, and large rectangular glasses. Different colors are also becoming more and more common.

“Lots of color; Big and bold; Blues, Oranges, Purples, Yellows, Red is very in right now,” said Hewitt on what is currently trending in eyewear.

Large, rectangular, thick-rimmed frames are also in style for men.

Furthermore, Raybans are currently the number one selling brand.

“The most important thing in any pair of glasses in my opinion as an optician as a professional in this field is non-glare,” said Hewitt.

Whether one needs glasses to improve their vision, or they simply value the frames for fashion purposes, the future of eyewear is changing as technology advances.

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