Here at The IC, we have a great group of people, and one of those great people is Daniel Ratcliff. Daniel is our Benefits Specialist, and he does a great job of connecting people with disabilities with the benefits they need to live independently in their community here in Colorado Springs. At a young age, Daniel was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease. If you aren’t familiar with Stargardt’s, it’s a condition where fatty deposits accumulate in the eyes, damaging the macula. This process generally leads to loss of central vision, which is the case with Daniel.
As an individual who has been legally blind since childhood, Daniel has adapted well to his loss of vision over the years. But he has always had the desire to be able to see better, and with the invention of a new device, that desire will soon become a reality.
After hearing about a company called eSight that manufactures electronic glasses, Daniel had the opportunity to give the new glasses a try. If you haven’t seen the eSight glasses, they look like a thick band of plastic that sits on the face, similar to pair of conventional glasses. They have a camera on the front, and screens that sit in front of the wearer’s eyes. The user can adjust the image on the screens to the position that best utilizes their field of vision. For Daniel, trying on the glasses for the first time was life changing. He was able to see the world in a way he never had before, and actually had the opportunity to see his wife and children for the first time. He immediately knew, that someday, he had to have a pair of his own.
As is the case with any other adaptive technology, the eSight glasses are pretty expensive. This isn’t unexpected, but did pose a challenge when Daniel was considering how to purchase the glasses. After talking it over with The IC’s Assistive Technology Specialist, Paul Spotts, they came up with a plan. They would apply for grants, use money from The IC’s Assistive Technology Fund, and Daniel would pay for a portion himself. It took close to a year to gather all the funding, but eventually, with the help of a grant from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments – Area Agency on Aging, it all came together.
A few weeks back, Daniel made the first payment to eSight, which officially kicked off the beginning of the manufacturing process. Here shortly Daniel, will be the proud owner of a new set of electronic glasses, which should help to fulfill a life-long dream of better vision. Though he won’t be able to drive with his new glasses, they should help to improve many of his everyday activities. Stay tuned! There will be a follow-up blog to discuss Daniel’s experience using his new E-glasses. To learn more visit The IC’s Low Vision and Blindness webpage.