I recently got a new smartphone, a fancy model with lots of bells and whistles. One of the features I like most is the camera, which shoots digital photos at 1,080 pixels and displays them on a 4.99-inch Super AMOLED display.

In case you’re not someone who likes to compare technical specifications, it simply means this thing takes pretty darn good photos. The clarity is impressive, with the image quality rivaling many good point-and-shoot cameras.

This phone, which has lots of other impressive features, cost about $200, a price point that’s within reach for a growing number of people. How many people? According to a recently released study by the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of American adults are now smart phone owners, and the number is up significantly from last year. “Ownership is particularly high among younger adults, especially those in their 20s and 30s (although a majority of Americans in their mid-40s through mid-50s are now smartphone adopters) and those with relatively high levels of household income and educational attainment,” the Pew study said.

We are living in an increasingly image-driven world, and smartphones, with their built-in, high performance digital cameras and high-definition screens, are raising our expectations of image quality higher than ever before. Savvy consumers now compare pixel counts when shopping for smartphones and other digital devices. So it makes sense they would be equally discerning about optics when buying eyeglasses.

Renee Wheelock, New York State Territory Manager – Nikon Optical US, made this point to me recently. Wheelock is also a professional photographer, and her insights about optics inform both her selling skills and her art. She encourages eyecare professionals to use the analogy of digital smartphones and digital cameras when discussing digital lens options and image quality with patients. “Take your business to another level through digital technology,” Wheelock advises.

She’s got a point.

Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology