Read Stories from
Ocutech Wearers and Prescribers
Bioptics have changed lives!
Adventure Awaits: How a Paraglider Proved the Sky’s His Limit
Despite his low vision—the sky is his limit.
It’s another beautiful weekend in Central Texas for paramotoring enthusiast, Cody Smith. With the wind and the sun on his face he feels like he can do anything— and he can! Powered paramotoring is paragliding with a motor and a propeller which gives him enough thrust to take off on his own.
And it all comes down to this: Cody’s love for the sport embodies his own personal values for life: passion, opportunity, and adventure.
Cody explains that powered paragliding combines the easy flying characteristics of a paraglider with the autonomy and range of powered flight. Wearing his motor and propeller in a backpack he says all you have to do is “buckle up, start the engine, and run like the wind while gunning the throttle until your feet leave the ground and off you go!,” he shared, passionately. Just like his life.
And just like paragliding, his life has also had its ups and downs. Cody, who is an Operations manager for the Texas State Auditors by day, was born with a congenital eye condition called coloboma, where the eyes do not develop normally, which left him legally blind.
In order to navigate his life of very reduced vision, Cody went through grade school, middle school and high school using a strong magnifying glass to read and an 8x monocular telescope to see at a distance. Like most individuals with low vision, he struggled in school as well as in socializing— making friends and enjoying his life to its fullest were both a constant challenge.
Cody explained, “I attended the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired from sixth through tenth grade because my local school district did not have the resources to really help me . I returned to my regular school for my 11th and 12th grade years and I became an honors student in both art and physical science.”
Cody shares great memories of his late father, Gary Perrenot, who spent hours reading to him and helping him with his math assignments. His father was a an enormous help as he was a computer engineer for the US Navy in the 70s and later for the Texas Department of Transportation. For Cody, his father’s passing in 2012 was another tremendous, personal loss.
“When I reached high school, like most teenage boys, I dreamed of driving,” Cody recalled. “And so a big moment for me was figuring out how, with my reduced vision, I might find a way for me to drive.”
It was 1997, when Cody turned 18 that he went to see Dr. Kathleen Fraser-Freeman at the San Antonio Low Vision Clinic. It was at that visit that his life began an exciting new chapter. After special testing he was prescribed an eyeglass telescope called an Ocutech bioptic. Cody remembers his first pair from over 25 years ago. They were a little heavy and awkward, and he did get a lot of looks and stares— but he didn’t care! He could see!
“I could now see and do things I couldn’t ever do before. And, I was able to get my special driver’s license and that’s all that really mattered to me then,” he smiled. “The Ocutech bioptics have literally changed my life,” he said.
Since receiving his first pair in 1997, bioptic technology has continued to progress and he now uses a newer Ocutech design that’s lighter and more comfortable to wear. Cody wears his bioptics everywhere and since they are focusable he uses them for reading, working in the office, in meetings with colleagues, for driving and, yes, for paramotoring where he is navigating and seeing the beautiful sights from on high all on his own.
From driving to flying, Cody has proven that the sky is the limit.
While living with a disability can break the spirit of even the strongest of people, Cody has never stopped believing that he was meant to achieve great things. Cody has worked hard every day to be able to achieve his dreams— to fly and soar and glide— and, much to the point, he has flown as high as 6,283 feet so he can visibly see his own success!
“My bioptics have really helped me do everything I could have hoped for— especially with my love of paramotoring,” Cody shared. “Those that love the wind in their face and finding these new freedoms soon discover that flying their paramotor can become their passion.”
On the weekends you can find Cody hanging out at the Lone Star Paramotors in Gardenridge, TX. He has completed 96 flights in the last year alone; his incredible journey and his passion for adventure can teach us all a lot about smiling in the face of life’s challenges.
“Like many of us, I have had my fair share of struggles both in school and in life, but I always knew I could do better and progress and thrive,” he said, passionately. “[Bottom line is]… some of us are born with visual impairments and we simply cannot let that get to us.”
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.
“It was a different life then”— says Bill McKenzie on his world without his Ocutech Bioptics
For Bill McKenzie, the old proverb “big things come in small packages” could not ring truer. It began when he received his first Ocutech bioptic telescope low vision aid. It was then that he could again enjoy the little things that he used to take for granted like watching TV or shopping— or the big things like watching his grandchildren play sports or just being able to see their eyes when he talked with them.
“My Ocutech bioptics reopened my life for me,” Bill reminisced. “Without them, I was hiding in my own little world where I didn’t say ‘hi’ to people because I couldn’t recognize them—I felt so unconnected… it was a difficult time in my life.”
In 1995, Bill was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, a condition that reduces central vision making it difficult for him to read print, see TV and signs at a distance and recognize people’s faces. By 2014, he found that he couldn’t see well enough to drive anymore, use a tool in his shop, or read with pleasure the way he used to.
To help combat his reduced vision, he installed 28-inch monitors to his computers and bought a 65 inch TV. He would insure that he had magnifying glasses throughout the house and he even purchased a microscope to help him look at print material. “The bigger the better,” he said.
And, he finally realized the one important thing he was trying to avoid: he needed help. “I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer. It was hard for me to accept!”
On his next visit to his retina eye doctor where he shared his frustrations for the first time, he was referred to a low vision specialist. “They talked to me about what I wanted to be able to see and do. No one had asked me those types of questions before. Just, ‘how are you seeing today? Crummy I would reply!” It was at his low vision appointment where Bill expressed his frustration about not seeing well at a distance, that Bill was shown an Ocutech bioptic, special glasses with miniature telescopes mounted in the top. He was amazed that he could see so clearly again, but that was on the eyechart! He was eager to see if they would help in the real world.
Bill now owns two Ocutech bioptics–the SightScope and the Falcon. The SightScope, a Galilean telescope design for both eyes works just like a pair of binoculars. They make things twice as big, and they let him see twice as far away. And, they can be used up close with special extra reading caps that he can attach to the front. But his Falcon, the world’s only autofocusing bioptic, gives him the most natural magnified vision because wherever he looks it’s clear immediately just like normal vision. They’re much stronger power than his lower power SightScope and he can see even further away. “The field of view is a little narrow like the mirrors in a car, he noted, and that took some getting used to, but once I did it they are a pleasure to use,” he said.
“Bioptic eyeglasses have added a new dimension to people with low vision,” Bill shared, “it’s a shame that so few people know about them. If it’s going to pick up groceries, visiting my five children or seeing my 12 grandchildren at their birthdays, BBQ’s— you name it— I now get to have those experiences back. The bioptics certainly bring things back to my life.”
And something he never expected, Bill is on the road again, driving his car, and appreciating not only his freedom and independence but also his physical and mental health. He takes the car to go to physical therapy (due to the knee replacement he recently had) as well as check-ups with his cardiologist. Beyond these appointments, Bill likes taking the time to drive and get his curbside grocery pickup or visit his family. “I’d go insane if I just had to sit inside all day,” he said.
Yet Bill’s greatest joy these days is getting to see his grandchild play soccer. He goes to the game a proud grandparent who can finally see the scoreboard and his grandchild run across the field. To be able to watch, see and experience the game like everyone else means everything to Bill.
“How do you explain it? When you have vision that deteriorates slowly, you slowly stop recognizing things, or faces of people who you always once saw,” Bill explained, reflecting. “And then suddenly, you have these lenses that can let you see like 20-50 feet away again… it’s surreal. Your world expands— and you get some important parts of your life back again.”
For more information about Ocutech bioptics, to determine whether you might be a promising candidate, or to request a referral to an Ocutech Low Vision prescriber visit www.ocutech.com. Complete the no obligation self-assessment questionnaire at https://ocutech.com/self-assessment-form/ to receive a reply from Ocutech’s experts about your specific vision options.
“It honestly felt like a dream”— How an Avid Explorer Got to See the World Again
“They’re an Eye-Changer, Quite Literally”— How an Ocutech Bioptic changed the life of a new father.
South African Author Finds Visual and Emotional Refuge with Ocutech Bioptics
She’s beyond ecstatic!
A very happy Myra Cain with her new VES-Falcon 4X Autofocus Bioptics. Mrs. Cain has Cone Dystrophy and was 20/400 in her left eye.
Thanks Ocutech! You’ve brightened our lives!
We tried several aids for our son and even demonstrated the electronic virtual reality glasses, but they were bulky, too expensive and he didn’t like wearing them! Ocutech provided a perfect solution for our 12 year old with low vision. They are lightweight, his friends can see his eyes, and more importantly he can see his teacher and the board in the front of the classroom. He might even be able to drive with them one day! Thanks Ocutech! You’ve brightened our lives!
– Cynthia Merritt
I am 29, and due to my Albinism, I am legally blind since birth, but yesterday I did something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do! I got a permit!!! I am so thankful for my bioptic glasses and Ocutech! My life is being completely changed by this opportunity! I am on my way to Independence thanks to my bioptic VES Sport that allows me to see 20/20
– Jessica Cribb
Yesterday I saw Dr Cheryl Reed and today I’m proudly wearing the Falcon bioptic to practice piano!
I wore it for an hour, happily making my way through my lesson book. I was seeing everything clearly at the normal 30 inch distance and not stumbling at all! I know this book well but played from the music. I went on to a level one music book with slightly smaller print. I was able to play and read everything including dynamics, finger numbers and the entire treble & bass clef together. I traveled along pretty well and was also able to glance down when needed to see my position. I stumbled a few times but that’s part of practice and also part of getting to know how to read with the Falcon.
I just love these, and can hardly wait for tomorrow’s practice! I cannot believe that I’m finally playing the piano like this. Thank you to Ocutech and to Dr. Reed for all you put into making these perfect!
Follow-up…Music to our ears!
Good afternoon. This week I saw Dr. Reed again. Everything went very well. I am now on my fourth day of practicing the piano. This is a record for me! Now it is forward and onward march to becoming better and better with my new “Falcon” vision and playing the piano from the sheet music. Thank you and I hope you’re having a good week. I’ll keep you posted as things progress!
– Mary Kissel
I particularly like the clip on feature, as I require a red tint on the 4x reading glasses I use & other products don’t appear to have this feature. I was a professional photographer, so I appreciate your quality optics. Thanks!
His wife was in tears as she spoke of the return of piano music to their home!
“I have allowed several patients to experience the benefits of the Sport model. A particularly gifted patient, a world renowned psychologist, practitioner and educator was able to resume painting and piano–his retirement avocations. His wife was in tears as she spoke of the return of piano music to their home-especially during the holidays. You do change and enhance lives- Thank you”
Dr. Douglas G Smith (Optometric Physician)
Bison Vision Center
Medford, OR 97504
My name is Alyssa. I am 22 years old, and I was born with a genetic condition known as Albinism.
This genetic disorder usually causes a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes and is always linked with some degree of visual impairment. I have one of the more severe cases making my uncorrected vision 20/400. This is well beyond the threshold that is considered legally blind which is 20/200. Ocutech has created a line of life-changing, telescopic visual aids known as bioptics made for individuals with particularly low vision like myself. In short, this is a monocular mounted on one’s normal/everyday glasses that enables those with poor distance vision to see objects that are further away more clearly, similar to that of a more normal-sighted person. My parents purchased one of these for me back in 2005 when I was in the fifth grade, and it has been dramatically improving my quality of life ever since.
Growing up as a younger child, I struggled heavily with tasks or activities that required any amount of long-distance visual abilities. Trips like visiting the zoo that kids typically enjoy were quite miserable for me because of my inability to see the animals. Normal daily activities such as watching television were a hassle because I always had to sit alone, only a few feet from the television. For this same reason, as I grew school grew increasingly more difficult when we would have to see the board, watch movies, or take notes. For example, when we were taught math, I had to either move a desk right up to the board or go stand at the board in order to see/take notes in the middle of class instruction. I hated this not only because of its inconvenience, but also because I thought it made me stand out in a negative way; I wanted to be like all of my other classmates. Before the bioptics, I did not know what I was missing.
When I went to my appointment to get the glasses, I was absolutely amazed! I tried them on, and one of the very first things I noticed was that I was actually able to see others’ faces while being more than a foot away. I could see their eyes as more than just dark depressions in the middle of their face. It was as though I could more deeply connect with people. This brought tears to my mother’s eyes. After we left, I found out I was now able to enjoy many of the activities I could not formerly. I enjoyed going to the zoo or aquarium, going to the movies, watching plays, being able to sit with my family while watching something at home, etcetera.
One of the biggest changes after receiving my bioptics at this stage in my life was being able to see the board and take notes from my own seat in class. This provided me so much convenience and enabled me to not feel isolated from my other classmates. I know that school would have become exceedingly more difficult with age, especially when entering college. Without being able to see the board, I am confident I would not have made it to where I am today, so I am deeply thankful for the profound difference this device has made in my life. Until recently, I always assumed that the ability to drive was something that people with low-vision like me would have to live without, and along with that the freedom and independence that driving brings. However, I was recently informed that this too is changing. There are now classes offered to train many individuals who use bioptic telescopes with the ability to drive. I cannot wait to see what is in store for me in this area as I have dreamt of being a fully independent adult for years now!
This bioptic has brought more joy to my life and enabled me to experience many things that would not have been possible otherwise. They have been one of my greatest blessings, and I could not recommend them more to anyone with low vision wanting to get the most out of what life has to offer.
I Use My Bioptic to Drive
Love the device. It is great to be able to see more clearly.
So grateful to Ocutech
I have been a bioptic driver for many years due to my congenital nystagmus, and I am so grateful to Ocutech for designing their telescopic glasses. These glasses have helped me in my academic career as I tried to view Organic Chemistry compounds from the 1st row of a large lecture hall where the dry erase board is about 15 feet away. The independence these glasses have given me has been remarkable and allowed me to graduate from pharmacy school.
I got to tell hundreds of people all about Ocutech and what my bioptic does to help me.
I just wanted to tell you I spent the weekend auditioning for a new singing show on NBC called “The Voice”. I was wearing my pink VES Sport in the line of thousands of auditioners and was the talk of the day! I got to tell hundreds of people all about Ocutech and what VES does to help me as people would stop me and ask (or stare). Then, after my audition, a producer took me aside and had me do an on camera interview wearing the bioptics. (Too bad I found out this morning that I didn’t make the show after all of that)!! I was hoping I would be able to tell you I made it and would be on NBC promoting Ocutech!! Oh well, I will try again
I can play golf and drive!
The ocutech devices ( I have 3 ) allow me to live my live fairly normal. I even use them to play golf. Without them I would never be allowed to drive my car. Thank you Ocutech
Fitting Ocutech devices is the most rewarding part of my work, seeing the tears of joy of patients the first time they experience quality vision, many times for the first time in their lives.
Hamilton, New Zealand
Uses his Falcon Autofocus EVERYDAY!
I’ve been using my Ves Falcon auto-focus for about a month now and so far the experience has been great. I use it for walking around outside, doing work on my computer, and many other things and so far it really can’t be beaten.
My wife was impressed and said it made me look farsighted with the phone so far away. It is working out really well.
I picked up the Ocutech glasses today. So far I am very happy with them. They work well for reading printed material and small text on the TV. The optics have a nice high contrast (deep blacks) and the image is really sharp. They are also light weight enough and out of the way enough I can forget they are on. I stopped at Panera on the way home. They have the menu posted behind the counter. I can read the main menu items but not the smaller font comments below the items. The Ocutech glasses work really well for reading my cell phone screen without having to zoom.
Yes I am using the Ocutech to see my cell phone through the scope. The Ocutech can focus down to about 7″. I am using it with the cell phone at about 20″ away.
I was concerned tipping my head down to read for long periods might be a problem but so far it is fairly comfortable. I normally use +14 diopter COIL reading glasses and hold the phone about 3 inches away to use my cell phone but I still often have to use the zoom feature on the phone to read smaller text. With the Ocutech scope I can have the phone at about 20″ away and read even small text on the phone with no issue (nice and clear). My wife was impressed and said it made me look farsighted with the phone so far away. It is working out really well.
Dr. Cecilia Muraki’s patient from Portland, Oregon
Optometrist specializing in Low Vision who has Low Vision himself prefers the Ocutech Bioptic
I have been using my VES-Sport 6X bioptic glasses for a few weeks now. With them I can:
- Recognize people without standing uncomfortably close to them.
- Read the prices on the top or bottom shelves in a store.
- Read the name tags on the pizza buffet pizzas, and know what kind of pizza I have before biting into it. (Very important).
- Read the name on my file folders without removing them from the file cabinet.
- Read the sport scores on TV from across the room.
- Read print on a menu or receipt without a magnifying glass.
- Read bus or airplane schedules, or fast food menus displayed too high or far away to get close to.
As a low vision optometrist with low vision myself, I understand why many macular degeneration patients feel isolated because they can’t recognize people unless they get uncomfortably close, which many prefer not to do. Prices posted on high or low shelves, is another frequent issue I hear about and experience. Before trying my Ocutech bioptic glasses, I thought of bioptics primarily as a far distance solution, but am finding them extremely useful at many mid-range distances, 3 to 5 feet away. Bioptics are one of the best options for macular degeneration patients to use to recognize faces from 3 to 6 feet away, or to read anything 3 to 6 feet away, as well as dramatically improving distance vision at 20 feet or more away. The VES-Sport also focuses as close as 10”, which is very useful for fine print.
The people at Ocutech have been wonderful to work with. They are there to help people. They do an excellent job and are very helpful.
Call it “Opportunity by Ocutech”
It’s Thanksgiving 2017, and I’m sitting here at work thinking over the last 20 odd years. Yes, I can’t believe it either, but it was actually autumn of 1996 when I received my first bioptic device from Ocutech. I was married, had a son, and living mostly in the cash economy of a disability check, when my back gave out. The doctor said no physical labor for a year or more, potential employers were still laughing at all attempts to find a job.
I’ve always said that the good Lord looks out for the fools and the ignorant and since I’m chief in both categories, He does look out for me. I called Voc-Rehab of North Carolina, with the thought of going back to school to get an engineering degree. I met with Georgena Clayten and I’ll never forget the smile, and her statement, “I think we can do this”.
I had no idea how difficult it would be, there was no money, my son was a teenager, and it’d been almost 20 years since I’d opened a Math book. My first day in class convinced me that my old tactic of writing what the teacher said as fast as he said it, was not going to work. You see, I never had seen what was written on the blackboard. Today’s math teachers are notorious for moving ‘this’ to ‘here’, from ‘there’ and doing ‘that’ again. I had to figure out how to see what he was writing, there was no alternative.
That night I talked with my brother, who has the same vision issues that I do, pretty convinced that I wasn’t going to make it. He knew Dr. Greene, and he was using an Ocutech device every day to help him see to drive a moped back and forth to work in Raleigh, NC.
Time flies, I graduated six years later, with an honors degree in mechanical engineering. I think I’ve tried most, if not all, of the tools Ocutech offers. The auto focus got me through school. The manual focus allowed me to work, as a civilian for the Navy. Ocutech even had a ‘two-eyed” solution ready when the Navy said I’d have to have depth perception, at distance to handle high explosives.
I learned to drive automobiles with this device. Little did I know what ‘driving’ could bring. I’ve held a few jobs since then, Engineering Manager for a huge corporation, among others. Chief Operating Officer of a small start-up, and now, as the hair is turning gray, (what hasn’t fallen out), I’ve slowed down a little and work as a Projects engineer for the world’s largest producer of natural preservatives for our food.
I should probably mention that I still depend on Ocutech every day. I have several ‘Sight-Scopes’ which are now my tools of choice. I’ve driven well over a million miles since I got that first license. I live in Nebraska where nothing is next door, it’s 20 miles to the nearest grocery. My grandkids are in North Carolina, and I still drive across the country to see Dr. Greene every other year to keep my license in this state. I almost titled this article “From a Disability Check to a Six Figure Income” but that would not give credit where credit is due. So, how about “Opportunity by Ocutech”.
I am thankful.
Tears of Joy!
My first experience with the new 4x Falcon autofocus bioptic telescope brought tears to my eyes– tears of joy. It has been only a dream for so many years, for patients, and for prescribers, and now it’s here! It provides a seamless transition in focus from 13 inches to optical infinity and anywhere in between. Since is an autofocus OPTICAL system, it feels like normal vision magnified through a telescope. It is much more natural than any of the head borne video magnification systems. It helps people feel more connected to the world beyond the limitations of their visual impairment. The Falcon is astonishingly easy to fit and prescribe. The cost is very competitive to that of the head borne video systems, and it’s so much better! Ocutech continues to bring great advances in technology to the practice of low vision rehabilitation, concentrating on the so important area of distance vision enhancement.
Works Better than at Demo!
I just dispensed the Ocutech autofocus bioptic to my patient who works at Walmart. I followed all your fitting tips and it worked great.- she is so happy with it and it works even better than it did with the demonstration. Her acuity is 20/200 to 20/250 and she is able to read 20/30 at distance and 20/25 at 25 cm with the telescope.
– Dr. Katelyn Jordan | Optometrist and Manager | Brooks Rehabilitation Center for Low Vision
Nature Lover Can See Favorite Animals Again
My 88-year-old mother has AMD and just had to give up driving. She also told me she could no longer see the deer or her favorite red fox at the edge of the woods on her large wooded property. She also mentioned that she was concerned that she may not see the coyotes when she let her little Maggie May outdoors. Thanks to her glasses, I think she will be so happy to see the animals and keep her doggie safe. One less thing for her to worry about.
Happily Driving with 4x Sport
Dr. Brett Mills called today to say that his patient has received his Sport bioptic. He is driving with it and loves it! He kept saying how awesome you guys were over and over and told me to make sure that I tell everyone at Ocutech! I could tell he was smiling and laughing and just happy about the SPORT he was wearing. Just wanted you to know.
Great Product and Customer Service
Thanks again for your assistance today! The product your team has is wonderful for helping me stay active and working.
Thanks again for the effort you and the team make to help many like myself continue on a productive path.
Have yourself a wonderful week!
VES-Falcon Autofocus helps people connect again!
One of my patients described being able to find the right flavor of crackers in the grocery aisle with ease for the first time in many years.
This was an important goal for him because he wanted to be able to find the exact kind he wanted without asking his wife. He wanted to go down one aisle while she went down another.
Looking at expressions on faces across the room or across the dinner table is described as “really connecting” with another person again, and “the first time I have seen their faces while eating together in many years.”