Google Glass Might Adversely Affect Vision

Some peripheral sight may be obstructed while wearing device, researchers find

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Since its initial launch in 2013, Google Glass has been touted as a revolutionary entry into the world of "smart" eyewear. The promise: a broadly expanded visual experience with on-the-move, hands-free access to photos, videos, messaging, web-surfing, and apps. The catch: a small new study suggests that the structure of the glasses (rather than the software) may curtail natural peripheral vision, creating blind spots that undermine safety while engaging in routine tasks, such as driving or walking.

In a research letter published in the Nov. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Tsontcho Ianchulev, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues sought to examine the problem. The authors outfitted three individuals with 20/20 corrected vision, and gave each an hour to become comfortable with Google Glass (per Google's own recommendations). Then, with the software turned off, each underwent standard peripheral vision testing. The researchers found that when compared with regular glasses, each participant experienced a "clinically meaningful" loss of vision in their upper right quadrant.

In addition, the research team conducted an analysis of 132 photos (found in a Google search online) of people wearing the device. The review revealed that the way the glasses are typically worn suggests that the risk for developing a blind spot is both real and common.

"Now, this was a very initial effort, based on just three participants and the follow-up analysis," Ianchulev stressed to HealthDay. "Our goal is really just to open up a discussion and have the manufacturer address the impact in a substantial way, because we realized there was really very little on the topic."

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