A legally blind university student in Sault Ste. Marie was recently gifted a pair of high-tech goggles to help her with schooling – and navigating her life.
Melissa Arnold told CTV News that she always loved libraries as a kid but after becoming legally blind that sentiment changed.
However, it looks like things may change again, S.i. Systems, a Canadian information technology staffing firm, recently gifted Arnold along with three other Canadians eSight 4s. eSight 4s are a cutting-edge piece of technology that can bring sight to people with a wide range of eye conditions. The wearable vision enhancement system is designed for central vision loss and manufactured by Toronto-based eSight. The system is best described as a high-tech pair of goggles that can allow the visually impaired to read, use laptops, cook, play board games, use smartphones and a variety of other everyday tasks sighted people take for granted.
“I was speechless when they called me and told me,” said Arnold.
“At first I kind of thought that someone was punking me.”
Arnold said the gift has made her pursuit of a career in social work easier.
“I hope my professors aren’t watching,” she said.
“I’m actually reading the books this year. I’d try to listen to the chapters in the last 2 years, but it just didn’t get in.”
Arnold told CTV News that until she was 29 she had relatively normal vision and took her sight for granted like most of the world – but when she woke up with what is called macular degeneration leading to no central vision in her left eye and then three years later in her right that all changed. For a little more than 10 years she had only peripheral vision.
“eSight 4 is a clinically proven medical device technology that works by capturing vivid images and videos out in the field,” said the manufacturer’s promotional material.
“Then it leverages our powerful camera sensors to provide that visual information to our proprietary image processing algorithm, before displaying it on our advanced OLED displays.”
Arnold said the images are right in her face in such a big manner that even with her central vision loss she cannot miss what the googles show her – the technology has also allowed her to once again enjoy one of her favourite activities she added.
“I was an avid reader and that was the hardest thing to lose, other than my driver’s license,” she said
An eSight 4 unit retails for more than $8,000.
Arnold said it is probably one of the most valuable things she owns and that she is very grateful to have been gifted it for free.