Calling All 3-D ECPs

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By Andrew Karp: Group Editor, Lenses and Technology

The blockbuster movie “Avatar” has elevated 3-D glasses to the forefront of consumer consciousness. As VM noted in its cover story last month, “The 3-D revival is being heralded as the newest transformation in entertainment and digital media and 2010 will see an explosion in its visibility for movies, television, video games, Web sites, and even mobile devices.”

3-D eyewear is just the latest example of the entertainment industry’s blossoming love affair with optical technology. Even the Grammy Awards are getting into the act. The airing of a 3-D Video of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” on the recent telecast required viewers at home to don 3-D glasses to get the full impact of the performance.

Several eyewear manufacturers are already catering to the 3-D trend. For example, Essilor has long had a stake in Myvu, a Massachusettes-based company formerly known as MicroOptical that is a leading producer of personal media viewers. Myvu’s products are as cutting edge as it gets in terms of both technology and style. In fact, one Web site admiringly said the Myvu Crystal viewer might be taken “for a pair of over-the-top Gaultier frames.”

Recently, Carlsbad, Calif.-based Gunnar Optiks announced that it will begin offering 3-D glasses. And Luxottica is reported to be developing it’s own 3-D glasses.

So when will optical retailers and eyecare professionals jump onboard this trend? Perhaps they’re waiting for major eyewear producers to offer their own lines of 3-D glasses for personal use.

But why wait? Even if optical retailers and ECPs don’t sell 3-D glasses or personal media viewers yet or don’t intend to sell them, they should be positioning themselves to their patients as all-around optical experts, just as European opticians do when they sell non-Rx optical products such as binoculars.

They can begin by talking with patients and consumers about stereopsis—how the brain takes two separate images and “sees” them as one. And they can adjust frames the same way they do now with non-electronic eyewear.

Optical retailers and ECPs in the U.S. are often slow to adapt to consumer trends. Yet there’s no reason why they can’t take advantage now of this budding opportunity and become 3-D ECPs.
akarp@jobson.com