For the longest time, Julie and Jesse Hoskins did not think anything was amiss with their son, Lane, as he grew up in their loving home in Ewing, Virginia. Lane would go to school, see his friends and play video games like all the other kids. He could even go hunting without any issues.
It was when Lane was about seven years old that he began to show signs of blurry vision–, needing to sit very close to their large screen TV and complaining that he couldn’t see his schoolwork. Naturally, Julie took Lane to get glasses— but even with the glasses he was hardly seeing any better. Two prescriptions later, Julie and Jesse, at a loss, were referred to Dr. Sean Wadley, an ophthalmologist, in Knoxville, Tennessee, who diagnosed Lane with Stargardt’s disease, a rare genetic eye disease that prevents the retinas from providing sharp, central vision. It’s like macular degeneration for kids. By this point, even with his best eyeglasses, Lane only had 20/200 vision in his left eye and 20/400 in the right.
“His diagnosis of permanently reduced vision was very emotional for us as a family because our immediate thought was– how will he be able to live a full life or even drive someday?” Julie shared, candidly. “We didn’t know whether he would ever be able to have the independence an adult would expect to have.”
The Hoskins decided to enroll Lane in a private school so his teachers could better support his special visual needs. The teachers would print out his worksheets in a large font and Lane was provided magnifiers for his books and special software to enlarge the print on his computer screen.
One day, Lane’s grandparents when talking to their next door neighbor, found that he also happened to have Stargardt’s disease. The neighbor told them about his Ocutech bioptic telescope glasses that he had found so helpful. And he offered to let Lane try them on. Within seconds, Lane could read letters and numbers and see colors that he hadn’t seen in a long, long time. Julie spoke with Dr. Wadley, who immediately referred the Hoskins to Dr. David Armstrong, an optometrist who’s an expert in low vision care, so that Lane could be evaluated for Ocutech bioptics.
“As soon as Lane put on the Ocutech bioptics, his face lit up! He started giggling and laughing and looking at our faces and it hit me, that he hadn’t seen our faces clearly in who knows how long!” Julie recalled. “Dr. Armstrong even took him outside– without the new lenses, Lane said signs were just colors with white spots. But when he put the Ocutech glasses on, and Dr. Armstrong asked him what he could see now… Lane excitedly shouted, ‘It’s an exit sign!”
Dr. Armstrong was optimistic for Lane and the future that a bioptic could now pave for him. In a YouTube video where he shares Lane’s story, Dr. Armstrong explained that with his regular prescription glasses, Lane’s was almost legally blind. Today with his Ocutech bioptic, Lane is seeing 20/50— “a big improvement, and good enough to see just about everything.” Dr. Armstrong prescribed Lane the VES® Sport-II. He explained that Ocutech bioptics are available in a range of designs and powers, so that the low vision specialist can prescribe the one that’s most appropriate for the individual’s level of vision, which can vary greatly between individuals. There is no one Ocutech version that’s right for everyone.
With his new bioptic low vision aid, Lane, who is now nine years old, has returned to public school. Even just a few days into the school year, his mom was seeing a vast improvement in what he can do and how he feels, and she is so thankful for the opportunities that have now opened up for him.
“His being able to see the board again and his excitement to show off his bioptics and do his schoolwork like his friends— it means everything to me,” Julie explained. “The fact he was so young when he first started having trouble, it was hard to help because kids don’t know when something is wrong with their eyesight.”
Lane is excited to being back in public school, getting to see his friends’ and teachers’ faces, and feeling connected to everything. He loves that with his bioptic, he can watch movies like Fast and the Furious and play Call of Duty and see it all clearly. He can hunt again and go to the beach with his family and see the waves. For his parents, his laughs and giggles every time he sees something he hasn’t seen for so long melts their hearts.
“Before we found Ocutech, it was so depressing to worry about Lane, his independence and his future. Now, we know he’ll be OK on his own— something all parents want,” Julie summarized, passionately. “We’re just thankful to Ocutech for creating these aids that have been so helpful for our son.”
Ask your low vision specialist if an Ocutech bioptic might be right for you. For more information about Ocutech bioptics or for a referral to a low vision specialist visit www.ocutech.com. Complete the self-assessment form at https://ocutech.com/self-assessment-form/ to receive a reply from Ocutech’s experts about your special situation.