Elderly woman getting eye drops put in.

4 patient questions about Google Glass

Wearable gadgetry is the latest trend in technology, and as one of the front-runner products of the craze—Google Glass—gears up for public release, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the digital eyewear.

Google Glass is a small, wearable computer that uses an optical head-mounted screen to display a smartphone-like interface above the wearer's upper-right field of vision. Fitted to glasses frames, the device is activated through voice commands or head gestures.

But such new technology brings a unique set of questions. One foremost on the minds of optometrists studying the device: Will this negatively affect eyesight? AOA members are looking into the matter.

Bruce Morgan, O.D., professor at the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University, and student Elyse Kleifgen are working with faculty to test the clinical and educational uses of Glass after Kleifgen was accepted into the Glass' Explorer beta test.

Optometrists raise concerns that Glass will cause computer-related eye strain symptoms, could increase dry eye, and might be difficult for presbyopes to use with the screen mounted close to the face—though the display is designed to appear as if it were about two feet away. Field of vision is another concern as the ¼-inch arm of the device might obstruct parts of the vision field. Kleifgen plans to see how her field of vision changes over time with use.

Lori Roberts, O.D., chair of the AOA New Technology Committee, is also looking to test the device. Dr. Roberts signed up for an Explorer test, and should her bid be accepted, she plans to share the device with the committee for scrutiny. Although the committee doesn't endorse products, it could develop practice guidelines for members.

"We want to try [Google Glass] out, get our hands on them," Dr. Roberts says. "The more hands on them, the better."

As Google announces new prescription lens-ready frames that are adaptable to Glass, optometrists likely will receive more questions about corrective lens availability.

4 patient questions—and how to answer them

  1. Can I drive while wearing Google Glass?
    Just as you wouldn't text and drive, you shouldn't use the device while driving.

  2. I have poor vision in my right eye. Can I still wear Glass?
    Optometrists who have used Glass say it's probably best to wear the screen over the dominant eye. However, Glass is only available with a right-eye-positioned screen.

  3. I've been diagnosed with dry eye. Will Glass make it worse?
    Looking up repeatedly to access the Glass screen could exacerbate dry eye, some optometrists speculate, but symptoms could be less pronounced with a glance as opposed to a prolonged stare.

  4. Can you fit me with prescription lenses for Glass?
    Currently, Glass is mounted to a specially designed frame with nonprescription lenses. However, Google announced prescription lenses may be fit to the frames with help from eye care providers.

So whether you see the Google Glass as half empty or half full, the gadgets are gaining hype and popularity. View additional FAQs regarding Google Glass. See the January/February edition of AOA Focus for more information about Google Glass.

March 21, 2014

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