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Google Glass has been in the news for a variety of reasons that range from fashion, to business, to eye health. As Google Glass becomes more widely available and other companies are jumping on the bandwagon and developing similar products, it is natural to be curious about these devices. However, you might also wonder if they are safe for your eyes. Recently, Google Glass was the center of controversy over just that very question.

WHAT IS GOOGLE GLASS AND HOW IS IT MEANT TO BE USED?

If you aren’t familiar with Google Glass and related products, they have been described as similar to a smartphone for the head. Essentially, Google Glass is a small computer that can be worn on the head just like glasses. However, the screen is small and above the actual direct line of vision. You can use voice commands to search for and use information that is found via the Internet and displayed on the screen. To view the information, you look upwards to see the screen. In essence, the product is meant to provide brief snippets of information that only require you to look up very briefly.

Google Glass does not replace regular glasses. In fact, if you wear prescription glasses, Google Glass and similar items are being developed in several styles so you can potentially attach your regular prescription glasses with the change of a screw. At the moment, only a few of these voice-command wearable computers are available, however, more of these products are likely to come to market over the next year or two.

WHAT IS THE EYE HEALTH CONTROVERSY RELATED TO GOOGLE GLASS?

Google Glass has recently been featured in the news because two writers tested the product and reported experiencing sharp pain such as eye strain and headaches while using the product. Since Google Glass is relatively new, it is too soon to tell how much of a problem this really may be; however, a Harvard optometrist who consulted with Google states that if used properly, there should be few to no complications — as the user is meant to only look at the screen on the upper-right in the field of vision for mere seconds at a time.

It has been suggested that users might feel some eye strain or head pain when first using these products, but because they are new, it can be tempting to overindulge when using new gadgets and toys. We are not used to looking up and to the right frequently or for prolonged periods of time, so the muscles of the eye that create this movement may tire.

HOW CAN YOU USE GOOGLE GLASS WITHOUT RISKING YOUR EYE HEALTH?

If you are curious about Google Glass, or about similar products such as GlassUp, Recon Jet, and other similar products, see your Silverstein Eye Centers doctor to ensure that your eyes and eye muscles are healthy enough to be looking up and to the right more frequently. If you are given the all-clear to try out these products, be sure to only look at the screens for a few seconds at a time, and take them off frequently to give your eyes time to relax. Pay attention to how you feel while using these products, as some may have no problems at all, while others may find the experience uncomfortable no matter how often they use them.

If you find yourself using them regularly, be sure to take time periodically to look in other directions. For example, if you use Google Glass and are looking up and to the right frequently, take small breaks to look up and to the left instead, or down and to each side. Just like the muscles in the rest of our body, the muscles in our eyes need to maintain a certain balance in strength to work properly.

If you experience discomfort, most people who use Google Glass and similar products report that their symptoms resolve quickly after removing the devices. However, if you try these wearable computers and have symptoms that don’t resolve quickly after taking them off, call your Silverstein Eye Centers doctor right away for evaluation to determine if there might be more serious cause to your symptoms.

At the moment, availability of Google Glass and similar devices is somewhat limited, but to learn more about your eye health or to schedule an eye examination, call Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600 for our Independence/Kansas City office.

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