By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
Images ©Don Chick
Imagine one pair of glasses that enabled you to eliminate every other pair of glasses you own! One pair that lets you see through the entire lens, not just a slice on the bottom or a slice in the middle, but the entire lens in the prescription you need at that moment. Enter Superfocus, the glasses that have a revolutionary lens design incorporating every prescription you need into one adjustable lens. With the Superfocus design the entire lens is clear, not just a portion of it.
The magic behind this amazing lens design is accomplished via a liquid sandwiched inside the lens. The wearer makes adjustments with a tiny slider built into the connecting piece over the bridge of the nose (below). By moving this slider to one side or the other, you adjust the lenses to match your prescription to whatever you need at that moment. For example, when I need to focus up close to read, I adjust the slider to the right until my subject is in perfect focus. If I then want to see something in the distance, I adjust the slider to the left and I have perfect focus for subjects far away.
The Superfocus lenses can incorporate a range of prescriptions because the lens is actually made up of several key components. Your distance prescription is in a removable lens on the front, held on with a set of powerful magnets. Removing this front lens exposes a transparent distensible membrane that, along with the rear lens, actually holds an optically clear liquid inside the chamber. The adjustment of the slider serves to compress the back lens into the liquid which changes the magnification and enables you to see clearly at different distances.
In a conversation with company CEO Adrian Koppes, I was told that idea of using a flexible membrane and a liquid to achieve a range of prescriptions from a single pair of glasses is actually over one hundred years old. The current Superfocus glasses are actually the 14th generation in the making and 20 years in development. It has taken a lot of research and prototypes to make this design commercially available.
My first impression of the way the glasses worked was that it was really nice to have the entire lens adjusted to the prescription I needed for any given task. For example, with my other glasses when I wanted to read, I had to adjust my head position up and look through the bottom and only the bottom portion of the lenses. I also had to keep the book distance constant as the prescription was for only one distance. Sometimes my head would get tired maintaining the position for extended periods of time, whereas with the Superfocus the entire lens could be used for reading and I could adjust my head to a variety of comfortable positions as I read. I could also adjust the Superfocus for a variety of reading distances to suit my comfort.
My other impression centered on style. Because of the technology in the glasses, only a round lens shape will work. That limits the style to one, round (above); however, that style is available in a variety of colors and the lenses themselves are available in a range of colors (bronze, slate, green, light green, rose, and amber) as well as sunglasses in Transitions/photogray. The question is, does the style really work for me? I’ll let you be the judge (see included self portraits). The better question is, will it work for you? In my conversation with Koppes, I mentioned that styles in California (the location of the Superfocus company) generally take several years to work their way to my state in New England. To which he replied that with me wearing the glasses I was “fashion progressive while wearing an iconic design!”
In use I liked the ability to adjust the lenses. Admittedly, it does take some getting used to. I liked the fact that when I worked on a computer I could still focus on reading materials. This ability to focus on multiple distances is something that works better with some prescriptions than others. When the lenses were adjusted for far distance, however, I could not see clearly up close without making an additional adjustment. If you are accustomed to doing a lot of chimping (looking at the subject then the back of the camera after each shot) when you photograph a session, then you may not like adjusting the lens for each distance and regular multi-focal lenses may be a better choice.
I did find that once I got used to wearing the Superfocus glasses, the adjusting of the lenses became second nature and they were indeed comfortable to wear.
Superfocus is offering on their website introductory pricing starting under $700, as well as a money-back guarantee. While this may seem rather expensive for a single pair of glasses, you do need to remember that this one pair of Superfocus glasses will incorporate two or more of your prescriptions. If you add up the cost of purchasing several sets of glasses separately, you may find it actually less expensive to own a single pair of Superfocus.
The Superfocus solution is definitely something to take a look at and consider if they are the right choice for you.