Augmented Reality: Are the Glasses that Make Everything Else Look Good Making You Look Weird?

By Lori Cameron
Published 10/16/2017
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While eyeglasses have improved the lives of millions of people, many wearers are painfully aware of how weird glasses can make their eyes look. The eyes of near-sighted wearers appear smaller through the lens, while the eyes of far-sighted wearers appear larger.

Prescription eyeglasses introduce refraction effects that change the wearer’s appearance. The eyes of a person wearing corrective lenses for nearsightedness (a) will appear smaller compared with (b) wearing nonprescription lenses, whereas the eyes of a person wearing lenses for farsightedness (c) will appear larger.

The problem is “the traditional process of trying on and picking new eyeglasses in a brick-and-mortar shop has a significant shortcoming: eyeglasses on the display are equipped with demo lenses that have zero corrective power, and thus refraction does not deform the eyes,” write Qian Zhang of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and other researchers in “A Virtual Try-On System for Prescription Eyeglasses,” published in the July/August 2017 issue of IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications.

Zhang and her team have developed a system to give users a more realistic experience, a virtual try-on system for prescription eyeglasses modifies an input video and virtually inserts prescription eyeglasses, producing an output similar to a virtual mirror.

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The proposed system generates a 3D representation of the corrective lenses mounted into the eyeglasses frame, giving wearers an accurate picture of how the glasses make them look.


Better than other virtual try-on systems, this approach simulates the refraction effects due to the corrective lens and takes into account reflections and shading, allowing wearers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

The other writers of the research are Yu Guois of University of California, Irvine; Pierre-Yves Laffontis of Lemnis Technologies; Tobias Martinis of VirtaMed; and Markus Grossis of ETH Zurich.


Research related to vision, visual analytics, and eye health in the Computer Society Digital Library

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About Lori Cameron

Lori Cameron is a Senior Writer for the IEEE Computer Society and currently writes regular features for Computer magazine, Computing Edge, and the Computing Now and Magazine Roundup websites. Contact her at Follow her on LinkedIn.