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Electrical engineer turned optometrist is first in PA to offer prescription Google Glass

Robert Haak '92, '94G became the first eye doctor in Pennsylvania to offer Google Glass in February. Haak practices as an optometrist with Main Line Vision in Wayne.

Haak said that Google selected him because of his engineering background. Haak holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Lehigh University, along with an MBA, and he is a graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. The only other initial eye doctors offering prescription Google Glass are in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, Haak said.

"It's exciting," said Haak, about Google Glass. "It's new. There's a lot of energy around it. It's neat to bring that excitement here. It's a little bit of California reality." Google Glass is like a hands-free smartphone. It is a wearable computer with an optical display that is mounted to a pair of glasses. A small screen appears before the user's eye. Using voice commands, wearers can take and share pictures and videos, receive directions, look up information, and post messages on social media.

The original design did not have lenses and were criticized as not stylish. Google Glass now can be purchased with prescription lenses and frame designs by Oakley and Ray-Ban. Haak said that his office is, "taking it to the next level. We do a fit so the height [of the Google Glass] is above your vision so you're not distracted."

"There's so much technology and it's changing so quickly," he said. In his practice, he sees a lot of college students suffering eye-strain and headaches from the amount of time they spend staring at computer screens, he said. Haak hopes to prevent this with proper fitting.

After completing his engineering degree, Haak was interested in optics and decided to pursue optometry. Another influence in his vocation was his grandfather's illness. When Haak was a teenager his grandfather was suddenly blinded by temporal arteritis, a rare condition.

Haak started Main Line Vision in 2001 after acquiring the practice. He also volunteers with Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity to help those who greatly need eye care. He's been to Guatemala and Haiti to help people in those developing countries.

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