Google Glass Gets Prescription Lenses, Insurance Coverage

Brian Heater
Tech Columnist
January 28, 2014

After Google began shipping early prototypes of its Google Glass wearable computer last year, one of the most requested features for the device was the ability to don it with a pair of prescription glasses.

Developers, techies and their ilk spend all day staring at computer screens, so imperfect vision is sort of a foregone conclusion.

Now, Google has announced that it is officially offering pairs of glasses that work with Glass. Design choices include Bold, Curve, Thin and Split. The glasses are stylish and modern; in fact, the dorkiest part of the whole enterprise might be the head-mounted computer you’ll be wearing in front of them.

The glasses run $225 — which, naturally, is on top of Glass’s $1,500 asking price. Google is also offering up a trio of tinted sunglasses that you can wear with Glass — Active, Classic and Edge — for $150 a pop.

Google’s been teasing the feature for a while now, most notably at last May’s I/O developer conference. There, a pair of Glass made an appearance on the show floor, sporting the same software and slightly altered hardware to accommodate a pair of prescription specs. 

This news comes bundled with the announcement that Google and leading optical insurance provider VSP have reached an agreement to offer subsidized prescription lenses for Glass.

Google’s Glass team has almost certainly been digging itself out from under a pile of feature requests since shipping its first sets back in spring of last year, with prescription eyeglass integration being one of the most popular. As a representative for Glass wrote on the product’s YouTube channel, “If we had a nickel for every time someone has asked about prescription lenses for Glass … well, we’d have a lot of nickels.”

Current owners of Google Glass had to submit “applications” with reasons they wanted Glass; if they were chosen, they could get an early pair of Google Glass for $1,500 and join the so-called Explorer program. 

Since then, Google has been steadily adding features to Glass for the Explorers, including an updated design and, now, prescription frames. Of course, you’ll have to actually be able to get your hands on a pair of Glass for any of this to matter to you. Thankfully, Glass is widely expected to be more widely available before year’s end.

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