Electronic Glasses Allow Legally Blind Woman To See Her Baby For First Time

Yvonne Felix, screenshot from YouTube

There’s no shortage of heartwarming videos on YouTube, and this is no exception. In the short clip, you get to see the moment when a legally blind woman sees her newborn baby boy for the first time, thanks to a pair of innovative electronic specs.

The woman in the video, Kathy Bleitz, has been legally blind since the age of 11. She suffers from a condition called Stargardt disease, which is an inherited degenerative disease that causes a significant reduction in central vision, but peripheral vision is usually retained. The progressive loss of vision associated with the disease, which usually starts between the ages of 10 and 20, is due to the death of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina, which is called the macula.

Although Bleitz is not completely blind, she has a blind spot in the center of her vision which means she sees objects and faces as hazy, undefined shapes. While there are currently no treatments to help individuals like Bleitz regain their vision, this smart new invention can help visually impaired people see more of the world using cutting-edge technology.

The electronic glasses, which are called eSight, combine multiple different components that can be adjusted by the user to enhance the quality of an image reaching the eye. The headset, which is mounted on lens frames, houses a high-definition camera which feeds real-time video footage onto organic light-emitting diode screens placed directly in front of the user’s eyes. A separate handheld device allows the user to adjust and magnify the image so that they can gain the best possible picture of the world around them.

“Interestingly, eSight’s many unique features—such as 14-times zoom, image contrast enhancement, reverse color display, etc—enable eSight users to actually see many things that normally-sighted people cannot see,” members of the company wrote on their website.

Because the glasses can adapt and maintain peripheral sight, they can be used in a variety of situations, such as reading a book or watching TV whilst stationary, or on the go. Although they are a tad bulky, to say the least, the company hopes to develop the product further and eventually produce a less obtrusive model, according to Tech Times.

eSight will set you back $15,000 (£9,900), and while that may sound like a lot, it is considerably cheaper than some surgical options which also carry a risk. And as with any new technology, as it develops over the years, the price will start to come down. Furthermore, eSight works with insurance companies, charities, government programs, crowdsourcing and various other fundraising efforts to help more people get their hands on a pair. 

[via eSight, Tech Times and ABC News]

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