Google Glass – friend or foe?

Publication1One of the newest trends in technology is wearables. Some of these devices like the Fitbit help you keep in shape by keeping track of how many steps the wearer takes and how well they sleep. Others like the Samsung Gear 2 allow you to check email, listen to music and do myriad tasks while looking like a normal watch. But, the most interesting wearable for optometrists is Google Glass.

As of a few weeks ago, Google Glass was only available for beta testing through its explorer program which allowed for only an elite group of tech-savvy individuals to purchase it ($1500). However, as of May 15th, anyone can purchase Glass and even obtain prescription eyewear that hosts the Glass computer. As such, some practices, including my own, have signed up to be Glass experts who can work with the approved frames.

So, what does Google Glass do and what makes it interesting to medicine? Well, for starters, Glass can take pictures and record video with voice commands. These applications can be extremely useful for hands free recording of surgical procedures. This can assist in educating health care providers, can serve as a permanent record in case complications arise, and allow for patients and doctors to communicate effectively even if they are not in the same city.

And what about day-to-day activities? Well, while using the recording device may unnerve people due to privacy concerns, I can certainly imagine recording video of my kids or maybe my favorite band at a concert. Glass can also translate words you see, help you with directions, and allow you to look up information. It can even help measure distances on a golf course and track the miles you run.  One detractor, some complain about eye pain after wearing the device for a number of hours.  Google has acknowledged this as a possible side effect of wearing Glass and can be due to unnatural eye movements like looking up for a long period of time.

As you can imagine, myriad applications are being developed to maximize this piece of technology. Also, other companies have developed similar devices. So, what do you think about Google Glass? Do you have privacy concerns? Do you think that this is a cool trend, or do you think Glass is lame and pretentious? Let’s discuss!

~David Ardaya, OD
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org

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Can eye color affect your vision?

 

Courtesy of Felix Leupold on Flickr

Courtesy of Felix Leupold on Flickr

During my 20+ years of providing clinical care, my patients have asked me a variety of questions regarding their eyes. One of the inquiries that has come up recently is, “I heard that having different eye colors can affect your vision…is that true?”

Well, there certainly has been much written about, debated over, and researched on this very topic. We know that the iris is what gives a person their eye color. There are numerous eye colors and variations thereof. They span from the lightest of blue, to green, to a mixture of hazel, to the darkest of brown, and even violet like that of the late Elizabeth Taylor. Most of us would agree that some of us are more attracted to one eye color over another, so maybe having a particular eye color confers some advantages.

From a vision clarity standpoint, people with varying shades of blue eyes to brown eyes can see equally well. With that said, there are some plusses and minuses in possessing a particular eye color. What is known from an “evidence based” perspective is that individuals with light eyes (blue) tend to be more light sensitive. I often impart this analogy to my patients. If we think of the colored iris as a window covering, more light will be allowed to come through a window to light up a room with a light blue curtain as compared to an opaque brown one. So much the same occurs with a light colored iris. They just have less pigment to block out or reflect back the light. In fact, this may be one of the reasons why an individual with light eyes may be more at risk for developing macular degeneration. Recommendation have been made for patients with light eyes to wear UV protective eyewear, UV coated contact lenses, or even opaque colored contact lenses.

It is also a little known fact that dark eye colors (brown) can withstand high glare situations better than light eyes. Dark eyes have the ability to absorb more light and allow less light to get reflect. My patients with dark eyes are not as bothered by driving at night in the midst of annoying glare from headlights of other cars.

So to circle back to the question, “I heard that having different eye colors can affect your vision…is that true?”

It can be answered with a “YES,” but honestly, the difference is so ever subtle.

~ Judy Tong OD, FAAO
California Optometric Association
http://eyehelp.org
http://www.coavision.org