Meet Aaron Paulk, a visually impaired competitive surfer.

His Ocutech bioptic low vision aid helped make it happen!

“My first dream as a kid was to be a US Navy Seal.” Says Aaron Paulk. “I enlisted in the Navy halfway through my senior year in high school in Indiana. Things were going along fine until my physical in boot camp found that I was losing vision due to a juvenile type of macular degeneration called Stargardt’s disease. That totally derailed all my plans as I was no longer eligible to join the navy or any service. I lost my dream, my vision, and my motivation at age 17 all at once. It was one of my hardest periods emotionally.”

“I lost my license and my independence,” he says. “And then I found Dr. Laura Windsor, my low vision specialist. She prescribed an Ocutech bioptic telescope—a miniature telescope built into eyeglasses that provide me with near-normal vision–and my life changed forever. It allowed me to follow my second dream, to be a surfer living in Hawaii, and I just placed third in the 2021 World Parasurfing Championships held in California December 7-11.

“Gosh where do I start with how my Ocutech bioptic has changed my life?” he says.  “I have been able to regain my independence and drive, which has helped me train harder and harder to now be one of the best visually impaired competitive surfers in the world.  Before Ocutech I couldn’t even see the surf in the ocean before I got in, but now I can check the surf and watch it through my Ocutech and get an idea of how the waves are breaking.  I wear my Ocutech at all competition events to have the ability to watch the competition and prepare for my heats.” 

Aaron wants to share his enthusiasm for using his bioptic with others. “The impact of my Ocutech has been so dramatic for me,” he says, “and I’m eager to do what I can to help inspire other people with visual impairments to adopt such great technology to help them follow their passions and achieve their dreams.”

“If It Weren’t for Ocutech, I Wouldn’t Have My License”— Julius Frierson is Seeing New Possibilities

Julius Frierson shuts the door to his car, parked on a street in the rolling hills of Ventura, California, with a grin— remembering how the license in his wallet and the ability to improve his vision was once just an impossible dream.

“I was considered legally blind ever since I was nine months old,” Frierson, a behavioral technician, explained. “Things were always hard for me— I was the kid who never saw the board in school, who needed special textbooks enlarged, the whole nine yards.”

Julius was born with macular scarring, a formation of fibrous tissue in place of the normal retinal tissue on the macula area, the central part of the retina, which normally provides our20/20 sharp vision. His condition is not very different than loss of central vision from disorders like macular degeneration or Stargardt’s disease. Julius’ reduced visual acuity made it hard for him to read print, see the blackboard, or see his friends’ and family’s faces. He was told that glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery could not correct his condition.

Frierson recalls one mentor in his life who inspired him to keep his chin up, teaching him how to cross the roads even when his eyes couldn’t see the lights change.

For years, teachers at Frierson’s school would often follow Frierson home after school, ensuring the teen was walking home safely. He’d hear the cars whiz past and think about what it would be like to drive one— to see the road and feel the sense of independence he always wanted.

Many years later, that dream became a reality.

One day Frierson’s optometrist at Kaiser recommended special glasses called bioptics made by Ocutech.  Bioptics are miniature telescopes that are attached to regular eyeglasses. Just like binoculars, they make images larger and as a result easier to see. Ocutech bioptics enable the user to see much farther away. For example, if an individual can only see clearly to 5 feet away, a 4x-power Ocutech bioptic will let them see 20 feet away.

Frierson’s doctor fitted him for the VES-Sport-II, which is one of a range of Ocutech bioptic telescopes specially designed for the visually impaired to enhance a patient’s vision. They are focusable, so he could use them to see better at any distance he needed including the TV and the computer.

Of course, these types of special glasses aren’t cheap. But Frierson was determined to raise the funds to obtain hisOcutech bioptic and benefit from its life-changing potential.  He let his loved ones know of this opportunity to restart his lifeif he could onlyfindthe money to purchase the glasses.

It was then that his girlfriend set up a GoFundMe page, sharing Frierson’s intense and beautiful story. In just 24 hours, the money was raised to cover the cost of the glasses! The amazing support he receivednow unlocks memories Frierson holds dear.

Ocutech literally allowed me to see two to three times better [than anything I had used before],” Frierson shared, passionately. “As of now, my regular vision is 20/200 but with myOcutech, my vision is 20/40— and that is a drastic difference.”

It’s only been a little less than a year, but Frierson finds his future is suddenly clearer, in more ways than one.

With his Ocutech bioptics, Frierson can see the world the way his friends and family have always experienced it. He sees the scoreboard of sports games playing on the screens in his favorite restaurant. He reads the menu without help,and he feels the firm grip of the stirring wheel as he can now independently drive.

Frierson goes to concerts and doesn’t just hear the artist perform, butsees them—colors and all.

The license in his pocket, the car parked on his street, the ability to cross the road now with no one having to follow:it’s these little things—seemingly ordinary things—that ignite extraordinary joy for this Ocutech user.

“[It comes down to this],” Frierson said, smiling. “I simply cannot live without these glasses.”

To learn more about Ocutech bioptics, to determine if you might be a candidate for Ocutech bioptics, or if you or a loved are seeking a referral for a low vision specialist, contact Ocutech today at www.ocutech.com.