Getting the WOW in HD glasses

May 15, 2008 8:47:23 PM PDT
High definition is hot right now - you can watch 6-ABC in HD TV, and you might listen to HD radio in your car. Now, you can even get high definition eyeglasses.

Back in 1784, Philadelphia's own Ben Franklin launched a revolution, when he invented bifocals.

Now, eyeglasses are getting a 21st century makeover.

Carla Gentry is a Philadelphia marketing consultant who spends her workdays using her eyes intensely. "I spend a lot of time researching, looking at visual presentations...a lot of time on the computer."

Even with glasses, her eyes often felt tired by day's end.

And she wasnt's as confident driving at night.

"Seeing long distance, the traffic signs were a bit of a strain."

During her last eye exam, Dr. Chris Anastasiou suggested something new - high-definition lenses, made by Izon.

The big difference is how they are made.

In addition to the standard exam, Dr. Anastasiou mapped Carla's eyes with a Wavefront machine - the same mapping device often used to plan for LASIK surgery.

Dr. Anastasiou says, "To pick up different aberrations that might interfere with your vision."

It mapped 11,000 points on Carla's eyes, to create *her unique "eye-print," which was sent to the Izon factory in San Diego, California, to make her spectacles. "These aren't glasses you get in an hour," says Dr. Anastasiou. "These take 2 to 3 weeks to get."

Dr. Anastasiou says, "This just gives you more precise, crisp vision than you would normally have."

Carla remembers the moment she put the new glasses on.

She told Action News, "Wow - the crispness, the clarity - it's very distinctive. The colors are richer - almost like hyper-reality."

Dr. Anastasiou says the results can be amazing for some, but the picture isn't always clearer. The iZon HD glasses won't make much difference in bright light. However, they will make a difference for most people doing intense, detailed work, and they are best in low-light situations.

The lenses are designed to reduce glare, halos, and starbursts.

In tests on a government-approved simulator, drivers wearing Izon HD glasses at night were able to stop 20 feet sooner in an emergency situation.

Carla says she does still wear her regular glasses sometimes.

But with the HD lenses, her eyes are less strained at the end of the day.

And driving at night, Carla says, "Having the ability to see just a little better makes me feel safer."

HD lenses are more expensive than conventional ones. Dr. Anastasiou says a conventional pair of lenses that would cost $129 would be over $300 in the HD version. But he says most vision plans do pay for part of them, the same amount they would pay for standard lenses.

HealthCheck producer Dawn Heefner contributed to this story.