I reviewed the emPower electronic focusing lenses after seeing them at the SECO conference last year. As I mentioned in my review, I did not think they were ready for prime time based on the prototype I saw.
So far it sounds like I made the right choice. After many delays they finally started manufacturing late in 2011. I am on Optcom, an optometry discussion listserve, and I have not heard any success stories there. One doctor just received a pair for himself after 10 1/2 weeks and he said “they SUCK”. He said they have a lot of work to do to get it functional and the lens has obvious optical flaws. Another doctor said they offered the lens in 8 of their offices and they are not going to carry them any more because the first 3 pairs they sold took 45(or more) days to receive and all three failed within a week and had to be sent back for replacement or repair.
Sarah also checked them out at SECO in March and one of the lab reps told her the anti-reflective coatings on the lenses were not good. And after much dodging, they admitted that they will not do “lens only” jobs. That means you will not be able to keep the frame and update the prescription in the lenses. Many offices will not “reuse” a frame but many people like to reuse frames so it’s something to be aware of before making a purchase.
While they are warranted against manufacturing defects, the have no “satisfaction” guarantee. When new lens technology comes out, the manufacturers frequently provide satisfaction guarantees to encourage patients and doctors to take a chance on it. If the product is as good as advertised, the guarantees are seldom used so there is little risk to the manufacturer. When emPower came out without a guarantee I just assumed that they were being smug and felt that their product was so superior that it wouldn’t be necessary. Maybe they didn’t offer a guarantee because it would have been be too costly.
Any new technology has kinks to work out but, from what I have heard so far, I can’t see how this can continue to be a viable product unless Pixel Optics is able to quickly make dramatic improvements in quality and get their manufacturing time down to a reasonable amount of time. Labs are getting a lot of complaints and remakes and no one can afford to routinely disappoint their customers, especially when they are paying $1200 or more for a pair of glasses!
If you still plan on purchasing a pair of emPower eyeglasses, be sure to find out exactly what type of guarantee/warranty is provided by the seller before you purchase them and have back-up glasses available in case you have to send them back for repairs.
Dr. Michael Murphy posted some pictures and video on his SmugMug site that demonstrates the not-so-invisible seg, delaminating defects and glare/haze in the activated state of his in his 2nd pair (first pair was defective and had to be remade) of emPower lenses.