Tech beats blindness at Las Vegas eyewear trade show

When Tyler Moore goes to his local grocery store he has to memorize its layout. He’s legally blind. Items on the bottom shelf are a struggle to see, and forget about seeing the price.

At work, he can’t recognize a colleague coming down the hall. Instead, he goes by identifying features such as clothing or body type.

With eSight’s new eyewear, those struggles are almost gone.

The glasses use a built-in, high-resolution video camera that sends what he sees to an attached controller’s computer where it’s processed and sent back to the lenses, which have miniature light-emitting diode screens.

“He’s actually looking at TV screens where the reprocessed image appears and sends a much better image to his brain and enables him to see,” said Julie Fotheringham, eSight’s vice president of marketing.

Moore, who works in eSight client support, said he wears the glasses all day at work and for activities such as shopping or reading as needed.

“It kind of opens the world up to me and gives me a sense of belonging,” Moore said.

The product launched in Canada last spring, and the company is partnered with Chicago Lighthouse in the United States for distribution in this country.

Welcome to the International Vision Expo &Conference at the Sands Expo and Convention Center through Saturday, where high-tech solutions are rapidly replacing traditional eyewear.

Thus far, registrations for the three-day expo are tracking 12 percent above last year’s show, which had an attendance of more than 12,000 eye-care professionals and buyers. Almost 450 exhibitors and more than 5,000 brands are represented across 185,000 net square feet. The International Vision Expo is co-owned by Reed Exhibitions and the Vision Council.

A preshow survey found that eye-care professionals primarily attend to source new products, find ideas to help increase profitability and see what’s new in diagnostic and eye-care equipment. The show floor includes products in the 3-D, eyewear and accessories, low vision, medical and scientific, lenses and exam equipment categories. There also is an education component.

“If they come to Vision Expo, they’re probably going to discover something they don’t know,” said Courtney Muller, group vice president for Reed Exhibitions.

Besides eSight, other innovative products filled Vision Monday’s Eye²Zone at the Vision Expo, a new pavilion at the show.

Vergence Labs was showing its smart eyewear, which features a camera and a computer to capture high-defnition video and audio of what the user is experiencing.

“It enables you to capture those moments that you really love without having to stop and think about it and mess up the moment,” software engineer Peter Brook said.

The lenses are electrically activated and change tints as needed to switch between dark and light. The Ephiphany Eyewear line is in production and should be ready for market by December, CEO Erick Miller said.

The emerging technology pavilion also featured a prescription focus-enabled, head-mounted display by Zeiss; a Food and Drug Administration-approved retinal prosthesis; PSiO’s audiovisual stimulation system for relaxation; and Smith Optics’ recon goggles.

Adlens displayed its variable-focus technology for the eyewear industry, called Focuss, which provides a full field of vision to progressive lenses, an 80 percent increase from today’s technology, according to the company. Users turn a dial on the side of the frame and their prescription adjusts to a range of customized power ranges, from distance to intermediate to reading prescriptions. Focuss will be sold in LensCrafters this winter and are expected to be more widely available later in 2014.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.

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