Smart eyeglasses bring sight to visually impaired

When she was 7 years old, Yvonne Felix was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration that brings on progressive vision loss. She struggled to see people’s faces and had difficulty reading and participating in school.

“As I got older, in my earlier teens, I started realizing how it was going to affect my life,” Felix, 36, told Fox News. “Like reading aloud in class, it was hard to make friends. It was hard to get a retail job at 16.”

Over the years, new technologies and tools have helped some of the 23 million Americans living with vision loss.

Felix was 31 when she first heard about eSight’s electronic glasses trial and was skeptical that they would help her. eSight’s smart glasses claim to enable the legally blind to see and work for a variety of conditions including macular degeneration, optic atrophy and Stargardt's disease.

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“I thought it was the weirdest thing, these electronic glasses, I didn’t think it would work,” she said.

But when she tried them on, she was overwhelmed.

“My husband was holding my 2-month-old and my 5-year-old son was standing there and I could see them and their faces. There was no blind spots; it was very startling to see so clearly,” Felix said.

eSight recently launched a new pair of smart glasses, eSight 3. With eSight 3, patients can see what's in front of them in high definition detail. The eyewear technology allows patients to shift between near, mid and long range vision, which gives them use of their peripheral vision. They can also control the magnification, contrast and brightness.

The glasses cost $9,995 and are not covered by insurance, but eSight does offer an affordability plan to help individuals find sources of funding to get the device.

Felix, who now works as eSight’s community engagement and development coordinator, has been using the updated version of the glasses for the past six months.

“I went from being a stay-at-home mom, which is wonderful, to being a philanthropist and business owner. [The glasses] allowed me to travel all over and be able to be engaged in ways that I couldn’t with my family,” Felix said.

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