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VSP and Google have reached a deal to offer subsidized frames and prescription lenses for Google Glass.
“We know our 64 million members are seeing and hearing about Google Glass and how it will affect their lives and vision, so we are really focusing on the eye health management perspective,” says Jim McGrann, president of VSP Vision Care, VSP’s insurance division, which insures one-fifth of Americans.
Google plans to sell Glass to the public later this year. While it did not originally offer traditional frames or prescription lenses, early Glass owners “hacked” the device to add prescription lenses and sunglasses.
Curvy (Image provided by Google)
Thin (Image provided by Google)
Split (Image provided by Google)
Bold (Image provided by Google)
Now, Google has designed 4 styles-curvy, thin, split, and bold, all shown above-made of lightweight titanium, and plans to offer 2 new styles of sunglasses. The color, frame, and shade choices will offer 40 style variations for Glass.
Justin Bazan, OD, Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member, speaking exclusively, says he hopes VSP’s decision to cover Google Glass will bring in new customers looking for prescription versions of the much-hyped new device.
“Being able to provide eyewear that incorporates revolutionary technology will make us more valuable to our patients,” says Dr. Bazan.
VSP and Google created a training program for optometrists to learn how to mount Glass on frames and fit the device on patients. The companies have already begun training ODs in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, although they have not said how many ODs have been trained.
“VSP providers can prepare online. I got an e-mail directing to me a specifically designed Web site. I watched a video, took a quiz, signed a non-disclosure document and then was told something like ‘Congratulations. Your VSP Glass welcome package will be mailed to you. Expect it in a week or so,’” says Dr. Bazan.
VSP’s lab in Sacramento, CA, will cut lenses for Glass frames. Google Glass costs $1,500 for those invited to buy the current version, but it will retail for several hundred dollars less when it is introduced to the public later this year. The titanium frames will retail for $225. VSP will reimburse members based on their plan, with an average reimbursement of $120, plus the costs of buying prescription lenses. It will not subsidize the computer portion of Glass.
“Smart glasses may or may not find their way into our practices. There are companies out there that are likely to do everything online and skip using an eyecare provider. In fact, I would say it’s only a matter of time before we see smart glasses available direct from the manufacturer or reseller online,” says Dr. Bazan.ODT