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Google Glass may do for eye sight what iPods have for hearing

POSTED November 27, 2013 9:16 p.m.

Remember the good old days?
It’s when TVs required vacuum tubes and about the flattest they got was three feet deep.
Meanwhile the screen was the size of a moderate-sized tablet and, if you were lucky, produced a relatively clean black and white image devoid of snow.
Now TVs thinner than a book dubbed “The Wit and Wisdom of Congress” adorn the walls in many homes. They are often larger than the screens that showed the first talkies in movie theaters and display colors brighter than life.
Somewhere along the line a rule our parents had — (I’m referring to those among us who remember such charming program as “My Mother the Car” which makes Jerry Springer seem like intelligent TV) — that we should not sit too close to the TV set.
You know the drill.
“It’ll ruin your eyesight.”
“You’ll get cross-eyed.”
Or my favorite, “You’ll go blind.”
Given the quality of programming today especially the vanity, I mean reality, genre you kind of wish the latter had happened.
No one any longer warns their kids not to sit too close as they stare into the vast wasteland.
It’s a shame given the assault that is about to take place on eyesight.
I’m talking about Google Glass.
The Mountain View-based company is working overtime to make sure Google Glass doesn’t have a short shelf life as a novelty or niche product when they finally unleash it on the market. After all, they need to sell tens of millions of the units each year so they can create a money machine to generate even more money so the high tech billionaires that own Google can spend money on a more tasteless and lavish level than William Randolph Heart ever dreamed possible.
So in order to accomplish their goal, Google is teaming up with VSP Global. 
VSP Global is a visions benefits provider that also produces frames and lenses. The two concerns are exploring ways of connecting your optometrist into their money making scheme.  
Google wants optometrists to have Google Glasses not only with fashionable frames they can sell and fit the device to their patients but also provide Google Glasses with prescription lenses.
This is about as sane as Apple teaming up with otolaryngologists to sell iPods.
MP3 players as well as iPods with their earbuds that directs music directly into the ear canal are the culprit in statistics that show more and more teens — and preteens — are experiencing hearing losses typical in senior citizens.
That’s because parents either aren’t telling them they could lose their hearing by playing their music in such a manner at full volume or else they can’t hear the parental nagging above the music.
Studies show that one out of every five teens today suffers substantial hearing loss. That has more than doubled in recent years. At the same time, specific studies conducted by the Journal of Pediatrics show that 12.5 percent of preteens and teens between the ages of 6 and 19 have significant hearing loss.
These numbers have all cropped up since MP3 players and iPods became all the rage. They are different than the old school Walkmans. That’s because Walkmans can only use one CD at a time meaning there were breaks between the assault on the ears. With iPod and such you could run through 1,000 plus selections non-stop.
Think of the possibilities of having a small screen not even an inch from your eye.
What strain will that put on eyesight? 
Computers with screen ailments too slight to detect have caused sight issues from ever so slight image shimmering making it hard for the eye to focus.
Then there is the issue of eye strain. 
There are also unexplored issues regarding streaming wireless that close to your brain. Not trying to sound like an alarmist but phone calls via a smart phone or a Bluetooth device aren’t as intense as delivering large bytes of data such as movies and websites. If they were the same intensity there wouldn’t be such massive chunks eaten up on your wireless bill when you stream movies as opposed to texting or making voice calls. The radiation levels from cell phones and such may indeed be about as harmful as listening to music blaring from Stone Age devices such as transistor radios. But Google Glass has the potential to do to eyesight when the device is over used as much as MP3 players and iPods do to hearing when they are cranked up to full volume.
And those most likely to use them in such a manner are younger people.
None of this touches on the real likelihood that those wearing Google Glasses will encounter serious health problems — or inflict them on others — via distracted driving or walking.
In a sense, it is true what some say about technology bringing the generations together.
The day may be coming when 17-year-olds have eyesight and hearing just as bad as an 87-year-old.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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