High-tech glasses allow visually-impaired mom to see her newborn
Published Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:36PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:56PM EST
As she held him in her arms, Kathy Beitz looked at her newborn son – a simple feat that may not have been possible without technology.
“The term when you have your baby is, ‘Do they have their 10 fingers and 10 toes?’” the Guelph woman said. “For me to be able to say, ‘Yes he does,’ instead of someone else telling me, is enormous.”
Beitz, who suffers from a disease that robbed her of most of her eyesight, is able to count her son’s digits and see his smiling face thanks to technology called eSight Glasses.
The glasses are essentially goggles equipped with a camera and LCD screens. Though somewhat bulky, the glasses fit over the wearer’s face, where the screens transmit visual information in real time.
“We’re then able to enhance it in certain ways that make an image that someone who is legally blind is better able to see,” explained Taylor West, a spokesperson for eSight, the maker of the glasses.
Beitz, who has a macular degenerative condition called Stargardt disease, is able to adjust the zoom, contrast and focus of her glasses to create a visible image. Without the glasses, things are a blur for her.
“I don’t get to see people’s expressions,” Beitz said. “Definition is a big part of my disease.”
According to the eSight website, the Canadian-made glasses are “the only innovation of its type, anywhere in the world, that allows the legally blind to actually see.”
Beitz’ sister also has Stargardt disease, and was one of the first wearers of the product. She now works for the company, and said she had her sister’s children in mind when she got involved with eSight.
The glasses cost about $15,000 each, and only 140 people in North America currently own a pair. Though they aren’t covered by OHIP, the company does have fundraising initiatives to help those who could benefit from a pair.
For Beitz, the glasses are priceless.
“When I got to see his smile – it does, it does feel amazing,” she said. “And I get to be a part of his smiles and giggles.”
With a report from CTV Kitchener’s Alexandra Pinto