One lens to rule them all


"I often work at home, where I've got my computer screen. I've got things to read that are closer. I started off with progressives, and I was one of those that like to have the full lens for whatever I'm looking at," San Francisco resident David Heer said.

That's why Heer is very happy with his new high tech eyeglasses. By sliding the bridge, he can change lenses -- without changing glasses. It's called SuperFocus.

"It's really a combination of two lenses. The front lens is rigid, a sort of a normal lens, and that has the patient's distance prescription in it. The back of it, though, is a fluid-filled membrane. So, by moving the slider on the bridge, you change the fluid-filled membrane from zero to up to +2.75," For Your Eyes Only Optometry owner and optometrist Kathleen Kennedy said. "Every focal point from optical infinity to very up-close reading."

Kennedy's "For Your Eyes Only" is one of the first places in California to offer the new system, alongside the array of designer frames she says San Franciscans demand. In the same price range of $600-1,000, SuperFocus is comes in an array of colors and tints, but only one shape.

"So, then we get into the electronic age, and we get into EmPower," optician Shar Newman said.

Today, you have a touch interface on your phone, your tablet, your dashboard, and, now, on your eyeglasses. Just a swipe of the temple and it's like changing lenses.

"You can turn them on to work just with a head tilt," Newman said.

EmPower lenses are embedded with an oval of liquid crystal. By electrically altering that part of the lens, they alter its magnification. A full charge lasts 2-3 days, and they're also in the $1,000 range.

One of the first to offer them is Walnut Creek's Art & Science of Eyewear, where optician Shar Newman says they're a hit with Silicon Valley types. It's the biggest change in 50 years.

"This is just the beginning. The future is very bright for electronics in glasses," Newman said.

High tech glasses aren't for everyone, but they are definitely worth a look.

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