My evaluation of Trufocal (now Superfocal, now maybe Zoom focus) glasses (6/2010)

My evaluation of Trufocal (now Superfocal) glasses (6/2010)

by Jon Claerbout (See Google for who I am.)

Spend a pile of money on some weird glasses?

When you achieve the age of 45, you will get presbyopia. [I'm 72.] In other words, your eyeballs will crystallize. You'll not be able to change focus from far to near. The traditional solution to this problem is bifocals. These make the assumption that when you are looking down, you are looking at something near, otherwise you are looking at something far. With today's big screen computers, everywhere you look might be near. With bifocals, you'll need to crank your head up and down to see the whole screen in focus. So I sprung the $900 for glasses with adjustable focus. You push a little slider to change the focus. I already have a pile of glasses for different distances, but I was swapping glasses all the time. That was a reasonable solution, but I thought variable focus glasses might be better. It's a new product by a new company (Trufocals), so I took a risk. You might be chancing it too, so I'll tell you here how it is working out for me.

A dear son once considered an extravagant purchase. My advice to him was, "if it is something you will be using every day, buy it, otherwise be careful." He bought a mattress and a computer work stand. So, when it came to glasses, I took my own advice. I sprung $900 for these glasses even though I was uncertain I would like them. They sound good. But are they?

What do Trufocals glasses look like?

My glasses correction is about -7 (quite near sighted) with 2.25 diopters of astigmatism.

The slide show on the left shows me in variable-focus glasses. On the right you see me with these and some conventional glasses from my pile of glasses. Click on either slide show to see a single larger still.

Me outdoors with glasses from trufocals.com.
This close up, your nose looks big too!
Me indoors with glasses from
Trufocals, 39dollarglasses, and Zenni.

You might like to notice greater reflections from the Trufocals, but not distressingly so. This is because for each eye there are two lenses.

These glasses, in my opinion are really ugly, but I never fail to get compliments on them, last time twice at the airport, twice at the farmers' market! I suppose they look so ugly that people think I have gone to a good deal of trouble to get such fashionable glasses? They don't even look like Harry Potter.

I stated my pupil separation to all manufacturers at 69mm. Sometimes I think my Trufocals may be more closely spaced, maybe 65mm, but I'm not sure. I have no idea what is the industry standard for tolerance.

Two lenses for each eye!

For a while I was worried that I might get dust between the lenses, and I worried that moisture might collect between them. No worries! They come apart easily for cleaning. One morning I woke up, reached for my glasses, heard a tinkle on the floor, and saw poorly with one eye. "Oh, oh", I thought. Did a screw fall out? Should the lens snap in? screw in? It turns out the lens is held in place with six tiny magnets. You can see them on the picture. I took the front lens off (your right), turned it backward, and propped it up by the nose piece. Count the magnets. [Click to enlarge.] I wouldn't mind if the magnets were stronger.

With the glasses assembled, the front lens is the one with my main correction. The back lens is the one which has the variable focus. They quoted me 2.75 diopter range in the variable lens. This means you can focus from infinity down to 100/2.75=36cm or 100/(2.75x2.54)= 14". My optometrist measured the difference and said 2 diopters. I failed to challenge her to make sure she was getting the maximum. That would be infinity down to 100/2=50cm or 100/(2*2.54)=19". Whatever it is, I am satisfied with it.

One afternoon I jumped into a hot tub with my trufocals on. They immediately steamed up. Considering the complicated arrangement with lenses, and my location, I sure didn't want to try cleaning them. I don't recommend these glasses for use in any climate where there is any likelihood of glasses fogging up. For me, they are my office glasses. I wouldn't wear them gardening, trimming shrubs. A lens might get snapped away by a branch.

I used to clean my glasses daily with soap under a warm water faucet, and then dab them dry with a paper towel. I clean the Trufocals weekly because it's a much bigger production. Instead of one piece, you have three. So I set up a work area on some dry paper towel. Paper should never touch glasses! Use lens cleaning cloth. I've already made a few scratches in mine. You don't want that!

Notice a very good feature of this design. When your correction changes, only the front lens needs be replaced. They quoted me $149 for replacement of a pair of clear lenses. (If this matters to you, you better get your own quote.) You likely don't even have to mail the glasses back. They could send you the new lenses and you would replace them yourself.

The slider works with no resistance from infinity to mid range (my office computer) but more resistance from there to reading range (and my home computer). I find this not an issue of practical concern. After one month I sometimes adjusted the focus with one hand, other times with two. Lately, I always adjust with one hand.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

This 40 second movie is supposed to show you that the lens changes shape as I push the slider back and forth.

In daily life, I mostly use just both ends, "near" and "far", but in my office where the computer is a little far from my chair, I use "middle". When I am walking around indoors I also use "middle."

CONCLUSION

I got these glasses in June 2010. Now it's July 2011 and I am still satisfied. I use them all the time for office work, where I switch between reading, computing, and attending slide show presentations. For computers with a big screen they beat bifocals. When I go see my grandchildren, I plan to leave them home. When doing a lot of driving, where I need simultaneous distance and dashboard viewing, I expect to use my bifocals instead.

EPILOG

I might be due for cateracts. I'll let you know here how that works out with my Trufocals.

FULL DISCLOSURE

So far I am friendly with the people at Trufocals (or Zoom Focus Eyewear?). I intend to maintain my independence from them, and lay out the story for you as realistically as I am able. I paid full price, received no discounts or promotions until September 2012 when for the first time I received a 10% referral payment from five purchases. I see today from the counter below that over twelve thousand people have accessed this page in the 2.3 years since I put my observations on-line.

A small number of people have written me, and I have replied to them. No exciting news to forward to you.

Apparantly, as of September 2012, they are still offering you a 10 percent discount on purchase if you refer to an earlier purchaser like me. You may as well ask. You will need to know my order number which is SO-000648. Good luck!

"John from Manoa" writes the glasses now (2/2013) cost $625 and the 10% discount still works. As for me, I, 75, am getting closer to getting cataracts with eyes changing fairly rapidly so the prescription is pretty far off; and I have stopped wearing my superfocals. I'll be seeing the eye doc next week. After things stabilize I expect to be going back. Watch this space if you want to see what happens next!

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