Few people think of glasses and contact lenses as being at the cutting edge of fashion, but recent developments have brought old-fashioned eyewear into 21st-century prominence. Advancements in both fashion and technology have opened the way for a dizzying variety of options for self-expression that can also enrich your daily life. These are five exciting trends in eyewear that you are likely to see within the next few years:
Single- and Extended-Use Contact Lenses
For years, optometrists and patients alike have struggled with the difficulty of maintaining safe hygienic practices while wearing contact lenses. One study found that incorrect contact lens usage contributes to nearly one million eye infections in the United States annually, and that sleeping with your lenses in makes you about 20 times as likely to develop such an infection.
In response to this, contact lens manufacturers are working to develop safe and affordable lenses that can be either left in for weeks at a time or discarded after a single day. Both designs are meant to reduce the risk of infection and encourage safer habits in consumers.
Vibrant Colors and Designs
Recent trends in glasses have favored sleek, rimless frames that almost vanish against their wearer's face. Now, however, popular taste is turning to bright and bold plastic frames that demand attention and offer an almost limitless level of variation in patterns and colors. When it comes time to buy a new pair of glasses, don't be afraid to pick a frame that makes a statement.
Customized, 3D-Printed Frames
With such an emphasis on chunky, plastic frames, it's not surprising that 3D printers have turned their attention to eyewear. This rapidly improving technology uses specialized printers to create real objects from computerized, 3D blueprints, giving consumers all the tools they need to design their ideal pair of glasses.
This printing method generates elaborate structures that traditional frame manufacturing cannot produce, including sculpting the frame perfectly to your facial structure, and it is becoming more affordable by the day.
Colored Contact Lenses
Once a tool used by teenagers and fantasy enthusiasts, colored contact lenses are now gaining recognition as their own unique brand of fashion. Women wear lenses to make their eyes appear larger or enhance their natural eye color, but you can also choose from a variety of striking patterns and effects.
This trend may be reserved for the boldest fashion enthusiasts in the near future, but it should become increasingly popular as tastes and technology evolve.
Although Google Glass rolled out to a mixed reception, glasses that augment reality and tap into the Internet seem to be inevitable. As computers require less and less space to compute huge amounts of data, it's even possible that we will see augmented-reality contact lenses within the decade.
These devices will offer all the functionality of a phone or laptop, without the hassle of actually fiddling with a screen. Once the technology catches on, these electronic glasses and lenses will likely be as essential an accessory as smart phones are today, making them the ultimate future trend in eyewear.