Time’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017 includes eSight 3, described as “Glasses That Give Sight to the Blind.” If that sounds like an exaggeration, it is.
eSight is a head-mounted video display that uses magnification to help people with low vision see. It requires a visual function to work and provides optimal benefit to those with visual acuities around 20/200 and can even be useful for people with acuities as low as 20/1000.
The 1st generation of this product came to market in 2013 at a price of $15,000. Generation 3 arrived in 2017 at just under $10,000. There are about 1,000 eSight devices in use today. The company offers assistance to help customers find funding for the device.
eSight has received a lot of media attention, but it has not really caught on. Price most certainly is a factor. References like the Time title may also elevate expectation.
Recently a friend scheduled an eSight demo in New York and invited me to join. We both have advanced central vision loss. He was not able to benefit at all from eSight, but I was. And I began to see the light.
The eSight 3 is a cumbersome visor-like device. It is heavier than I expect and there is a wire that is attached to a battery pack. The eSight specialist adjusts the device and I am able to look across the room and see her colleague smiling at me, and I can tell she is wearing bright red lipstick and a red and white print scarf. This is indeed a moment. I look around the room and walk over the look out the window. They show me how I might read with this device, zooming into the print. For me, nothing else feels quite as profound as being able to see a persons face from the other side of a room.
Although I would have difficulty wearing the eSight device in public for daily activities like commuting, restaurant dining, or grocery store shopping, perhaps others would be unfazed. The potential benefits are highly individual. There are many ways this device can keep you working, enjoying hobbies, watching TV. And of course, seeing people.
Remember, it comes down to adjusting, and it takes some time to get comfortable. If eSight can give you back or help you maintain function, and you use it every day, it can be a worthwhile investment.
Article first published on December 1, 2017.
About the Author
Dorrie Rush is a Visual Accessibility Expert and progressive proponent for Universal Access and Inclusive Design. She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.