I have a confession. Although I’ve had a pair of Google Glass since October, I haven’t been wearing it all that much.
Why? Mainly because of my vision challenges. I have relatively poor distance vision, having worn corrective lenses for nearly 35 years and mild astigmatism as well. Adding to the pile of late is presbyopia as I hit my mid-40′s: As of last year, I’ve had progressive bifocals as well.
Google Glass plus glasses isn’t ideal
All of this adds up to wearing Glass atop my own glasses, which is just too unwieldy of a scenario for me.
That changed last week though: I ordered Bold titanium frames directly from Google. These can accept corrective lenses and the guts of Google Glass connects directly to the frame. This past weekend, I had lenses made for them and I’m now wearing Google Glass all of my waking hours. Fitting the lenses in my case wasn’t that simple however.
Google has frames now, but….
I didn’t realize until the Bold frames arrived that there would be some limitations. For starters, Google recommends that corrective lenses should be in the -4 to +4 diopter range. My prescription for distance vision falls outside that range at -5.25 in one eye and -4.75 in the other. Right away, my optometrist was leery of trying to fit my lenses in the Bold frames.
Google also says lenses for those with astigmatism is fine but only up to 2.0. I fall just under that range but it’s irrelevant due to my vision as mentioned above. My presbyopia isn’t too bad; I need reading glasses with a +1.50 diopter. My current traditional glasses address this with progressive bifocals.
My options were pretty limited then, at least if I wanted to use the Bold frames that Google sells. Note that Google also sells three other styles; I suspect they all face the same limitations due to the thinness of the titanium frame.
A wacky solution that works well
I ended up going with a sort of unorthodox solution that I discussed in great length with my eye doctor. To get around the corrective vision problem with Glass, I actually opted to get contacts for distance. I’ve worn them before, most recently during the two dozen road races I ran in 2011 so I could race with sunglasses on.
With the distance problem addressed, I had the optometrist write a second prescription just for reading to address my presbyopia. In the Bold frames then, I have a progressive lens with a +1.50 diopter on the bottom — just like my current traditional glasses — and clear glass in the top half of the lens. This combination solves every one of my vision problems while still allowing me to wear Google Glass without my other glasses.
It’s definitely a more expensive way and complicated way to go. I could have opted for a third-party Glass accessory that can handle higher prescriptions; Rochester Optical and OpticsPlanet each offer just that but I prefer the integrated look over a clip-on style of lens. There are some advantages, however.
It’s easier to remove and demo Glass this way
If I ever have to remove Google Glass — perhaps upon request by a venue — I’ll still be able to see without carrying a second pair of corrective lenses. Reading could be a challenge in that situation but I can deal with that. In fact, this scenario arose right after getting my Google Glass lenses because I had to use a public rest room. Just before entering, I removed Glass and tucked the arm with the electronics in the collar of my shirt. This way, I completely avoided any potential situation with anyone else in the men’s room.
An additional benefit is when letting others use Google Glass. If my distance vision lenses were in the Glass frames, I doubt most people would be able to clearly see the Glass display. The way I have Glass set up now, anyone can see through the clear top half of the lenses to try Glass. And I ended up giving a good half-dozen demos to people throughout my travels this weekend, so it worked out well.
After months of being frustrated with Google Glass on top of regular glasses, I’m thrilled with the way this worked out. My hope is that Google adds more frames in the future though; some that can better handle higher levels of vision correction because I doubt many will want to the route I did. Regardless, I’ll be wearing Glass on a more “full-time” basis and brining additional thoughts on the experience over the coming months.