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Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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Superfocus Glasses: A Review

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A man wearing superfocus glasses.
Superfocus glasses

As I write this post, I’m wearing my new Superfocus glasses. I was given the glasses by the company to demonstrate, and they are nothing less than remarkable. I’ve used them mostly in two very common settings for me—indoors and outdoors. In both situations, they performed very well. 

Superfocus lenses work by mimicking a young, healthy human eye. Each lens is actually a set of two lenses (flexible and firm). The flexible, inner lens has a transparent membrane attached to a rigid surface, sandwiching a small amount of clear fluid. The bridge (across the nose) connecting the lenses allows you to adjust the shape of the flexible lens. Slide the tab along the bridge to find the exact correction for the particular user. The intent is to achieve clear, undistorted vision within any lighting or distance.

You can learn a great deal from the Superfocus website about the benefits of adjustable lenses, how to obtain the glasses, and so forth. I won’t reiterate information from the website, but rather discuss how I have used these glasses and discuss their performance based on my own experience. 

First, I used them during my work in the E.R. as a physician. Because I am growing older and having difficulty with near vision (I need to wear bifocals or reading glasses), I have had difficulty achieving perfectly focused vision recently when working up close—for instance when sewing patients' wounds and in other situations that require near vision. Using my reading glasses or the lower part of my bifocals has been helpful, but not entirely satisfactory, since I am restricted with these glasses to one distance because of the fixed-focal-length lens. Limited to a few mandatory distances with the reading glasses and bifocals, if I need to lean back or otherwise change the distance at which I am working, it sometimes becomes difficult to attain visual focus. The Superfocus glasses entirely solve this problem. With a very quick and easy adjustment using the slider, I can achieve perfect focus and then adjust it again if my working distance changes. 

Superfocus glasses
Superfocus glasses

Another observation is that the angle of tilt when wearing the glasses is important for precision focusing, so that the glasses need to fit properly. Prolonged use with improper fit might cause eye strain and fatigue. Recognizing the importance for frames to fit properly, the company provides a certificate good for $50 to cover professional fitting fees by an optician. Superfocus also explains the eyeglass construction to the eye care professional, to avoid inadvertent damage during the fitting.

The only issue in my work environment is when I am required to wear sterile gloves. Since I need to keep my hands sterile, the matter of manipulating the slider—having to “break scrub,” move the slider, then put on a new pair of gloves—makes using the glasses a little more complicated. Luckily, the Superfocus glasses allow a reasonable range of focus at a given setting, so unless I am changing position substantially, a single setting has generally been adequate for an entire procedure.

Next, I wore the glasses outdoors while hiking. They worked very well, completely solving the problem created by the split focus associated with bifocals. Using the Superfocus glasses adjusted for distance vision, I didn’t have the blurry bottom phenomenon created by the bifocals, and found it much easier to negotiate steps and other inclines, particularly on the downhill portions, where glancing or looking down is important. For the future, I will need darkened front lenses (these are available) for sustained outdoor recreational or field work use, as well as for reading outdoors. Another added benefit of Superfocus is that at the position of nearest focused range, there is a small amount of magnification, which is definitely useful when inspecting something up close (for example, to remove a thorn or splinter.

Superfocus glasses are a winner, and function as advertised. They will be with me now when I am trekking, camping, and fishing. For certain, I will use them when I serve as medical support in an expedition setting, and for my global relief work. They are comfortable and eliminate the need to carry additional reading glasses—although it’s always recommended to carry backup glasses for all distances when in a wilderness or other remote or austere setting. I suggest carrying Superfocus glasses in a sturdy case (provided with the glasses) and wearing them with a lanyard, Chums, or other retainer, since they are not inexpensive to replace. 

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Tags: Climbing High , General Interest , Products

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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