“Oh Mommy, there you are!” 12 year old Christopher Ward Jr. said as he saw his mother for the first time. He was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, so his view of the world ended about five inches from his nose. Luckily his mother learned about eSight glasses, and took him from Forest Virginia to Washington, DC to try them out.
“When I looked at her she was pretty,” the young man said, bringing half of us to tears.
eSight glasses use a small, high resolution camera and live streams enhanced video directly in front of the user’s eyes. Software ensures there’s no lag time allowing the wearer to seamlessly go from reading a book to looking at someone sitting across the room, then out a window. eSight Eyewear helped a mother see her baby for the first time, and kids as young as six years old see a world they’ve never been able to view before. “Pretty cool glasses huh?” Chris said, drawing a laugh.
Yes, indeed. They won’t work for everyone — for 14 percent of the world’s sight-impaired population, those completely blind or severely sight-impaired, eSight glasses are ineffective. But they do work for legally blind and those with low vision, like Chris.
Unfortunately, one pair of eSight glasses carry a $15,000 price tag, though the company offers free demos. Ward’s mother Marquita Hackley told WSET, “Whatever it takes to raise the money for it, that’s what I was determined I was going to do.”
The difference these glasses can make in Chris’ life is painfully evident. Because he can’t see the words on a printed page, he learned Braille and uses a special typewriter to turn in his school assignments, but even now, some textbooks aren’t available for him. As he moves on in life, specifically to high school, sticking to paper and a typewriter will become more difficult; for instance, his high school primarily uses computers, which Chris can’t see at all.
So Chris’s mother set up a crowdfunding campaign for him. 565 donors raised $25,241 before Ms. Hackley closed the fundraiser. She’s overwhelmed by all the well-wishers. She said, “All the messages that we’ve gotten on Facebook and emails, I mean it’s just amazing.” The extra money will go into a trust fund for Ward’s college tuition.
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