“It’s a Whole New World and a Whole New Life Experience” — How One Ocutech User Made Her Dreams Come True

 

No words will ever be able to fully capture the story of Crystal Davis and Ocutech— it’s a story full of twists and turns, of a woman’s resilience, of her strength of heart and fate.

Crystal was born with Achromatopsia, an inherited retinal disorder that causes both a lack of clear vision as well as a total absence of color vision. As a young girl, growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, her parents were never told about low vision aids that could help Crystal in school to read better and see the chalkboard. And, as a young adult an eye doctor she visited had told her that because of her vision she would never be eligible to drive.

“Then I heard about Belinda O’ Connor an Ocutech bioptic telescope wearer and the founder of ‘Bioptic Drivers Australia.’ Wearing her Ocutech bioptic telescope, she became her country’s first visually impaired motorcyclist” Crystal shared.  “And she has Achromatopsia just like I do, and she is driving! I said to myself, if she can do it why can’t I?”

Recently, Crystal relocated to a small farming town outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has taken her passion for farming and found a home where she can raise chickens, turkey quails, rabbits, pigs and goats. More importantly, she was on a mission to find an optometrist that can help her get a bioptic telescope and become eligible to drive.

Having studied the Ocutech website, Crystal was convinced that she was a promising candidate for an Ocutech bioptic and thought that they could make a major difference in her life. She began to search for an optometrist in North Carolina who specializes in low vision care and discovered Academy Eye Associates in Durham, and made an appointment to see Dr. Jennifer Powell.

Little did she know at the time that Ocutech’s Co-founder, Dr. Henry Greene, had also been the founder of Academy Eye Associates, and although now retired he would still consult on low vision patients periodically.

“As soon as I realized that I might be able to meet Dr. Greene, I couldn’t believe it,” Crystal gushed. “I had read about Dr. Greene and Ocutech for years. And then— to my amazement—and with my new optometrist letting Dr. Greene know that I was a fan, Dr. Greene surprised me by coming to the office to personally fit me for my bioptics. I felt like a teenager who has just met her hero.”

Dr. Greene fitted Crystal with the Ocutech VES Explorer bioptic telescope. This manual focus bioptic telescope is small, lightweight and it’s very comfortable to wear.  For a personal touch, Crystal chose a  pink telescope color attached to a bronze frame. “I’m told by many that the color combination looks great on me,” Crystal stated jokingly, as of course she has no color vision to be able to tell for herself!

She was also provided special filters which snap onto the bioptic, so she could distinguish green and yellow colors, and special red filters that fit over her entire bioptic to aid her ability to recognize red lights easier.

But the best part? Crystal’s dreams of both obtaining a bioptic driver’s license and becoming a successful farmer could finally become reality. North Carolina, like most states in the US now allow visually impaired drivers to receive a special bioptic driver’s license after completing  training and testing. This fall, she expects to be able to compete her training and finally get her license.

“It’s amazing how I can be on my farm working and see my animals off in the distance— it’s a whole new world and a whole new experience for me.  I just wish I knew long ago when I was a little girl growing up that this could happen for me.  Bioptics could have been so helpful for me then,” she said, reminiscing. “These bioptics are just a life-changer!”

While working on the farm, Crystal has also been in school studying business accounting, with the hope of one day obtaining her CPA. Because she is a go-getter, Crystal did not hesitate to ask Dr. Greene if he knew of any companies around her area that may be hiring someone with reduced vision. It didn’t take long for Dr. Greene to immediately answer with a job offer of his own.

“I am now part of the administrative team at Ocutech!”  Crystal shared, grinning. “I get to hear so many stories of individuals with low vision and how their lives have been drastically transformed because of bioptics, and I have the pleasure to work for a company and a doctor that I have been a fan of for years. Everything is finally falling into place for me.”

If Crystal’s story teaches us anything, it’s that being resilient and a self-advocate is crucial when it comes to achieving one’s dreams. And if you or a loved one are experiencing a visual impairment, Ocutech is happy to help answer any questions and refer you to an optometrist who also specializes in low vision care. You might even get to chat with Crystal!

About Ocutech

Ocutech Bioptics are especially helpful for viewing television, movies and theater, seeing faces, signs, blackboards in school, shopping, and traveling. Ocutech wearers have even used their bioptics to hike, golf, bowl, paint, fish, drive tractors and mow the lawn. Most states in the U.S. and some countries will license eligible visually impaired individuals to drive while using a bioptic telescope.

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 visual situation.

“Now we know he’ll be OK on his own”— How the parents of a nine year old with vision loss were able to breathe easier again.

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.

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

Just six months ago, Alan Vosko experienced what he described as “as close to a miracle as I could ever imagine.” After losing all of his sight in his left eye and much of it in his right, he was again able to see the sunsets and palms trees and his niece’s hockey games– blessings he never thought he’d enjoy again.

Alan’s journey with vision loss is a tale of resilience and strength. It all started in his thirties when he walked into a branch causing an injury-induced (traumatic) cataract. He received cataract surgery in that eye, only to develop a cataract in his other eye soon after. Many surgeries later, both of his corneas (the clear window at the front of the eye) began to degrade- making him feel as if he was looking through a frosted window. On another ‘heavy’ day, Alan learned that he had pancreatic cancer. Thankfully now cancer-free after chemotherapy and radiation, Alan was now blind in his left eye and could only see 20/100 with his right.

“I lost a lot of my independence like not being able to drive that was pretty crushing,” Alan shared, poignantly. “It affects everything I do and the biggest was not being able to travel like I used to. I used to snorkel, bike, or hike and explore the national parks or travel in Europe. My wife Sue and I loved to immerse ourselves in the cultures we visited. For two years I had to either not live my life in the way I once could, or just curl up in a ball.”

But Alan and Sue never gave up searching for a solution to regain his sight. They went from doctor to doctor and he underwent six eye operations! But it wasn’t until he was referred to a low vision specialist— an optometrist specializing in treating the visually impaired, that his vision and his life began a new chapter.

“I’ll never forget the moment I was tested and fitted for the Ocutech bioptics glasses— everything was instantly in focus, I could see again. After two years of feeling so blind, it honestly felt like a dream had come true,” Alan reminisced.

Alan was prescribed special bioptic telescope eyeglasses designed for individuals with visual impairments.  Alan’s version, called the Ocutech VES Explorer, includes a miniature telescope that magnifies what the person sees, just like binoculars.  Alan feels a kinship to his new bioptic as they let him travel and explore the world again just like he used to. “They’ve given me my life back” he says. His bioptic glasses give Alan close to 20/20 vision and although he can’t prove it, he truly feels as though the bioptics have “actually improved and strengthened” his overall vision.

Since receiving his bioptic, Alan says he has regained much of his independence. He is even driving again as Michigan is one of 47 states that allow visually impaired individuals to obtain a special driver’s license for bioptic users. To get his bioptic license he had to comply with the state’s special requirements and testing but he said it was all worth it.

And he can go back to being the avid fisherman he once was. One of his favorite stories is catching the last of his “bucket-list fish” because he was actually able to see it jump out of the water with his bioptic. He can again watch his niece play hockey, “she’s going to be a superstar one day,” he grinned. “I used to have to ask my wife to narrate the game for me, but now I can see it all myself- see her master that puck— and that’s all I can really ask for.”

Alan is also traveling the world again and is seeing it for himself. He recalls that for the two years when he was so severely visually impaired, he would go to Hawaii or Florida with Sue and wonder what the sunset actually looked like, having only memories of what he could no longer see. They recently went back to their favorite spot to watch the sunset, and there it was: he could see the pink hues and bright colors, just as wonderful as ever!

“My Ocutech bioptic has been my first miracle, but the second is that it has allowed me to live the life I want to live again,” Alan said, smiling. “People used to always ask me, ‘can you see that?’ and the best thing is now I can finally tell them ‘yes! I can’.”

For more information about Ocutech bioptics consult your low vision specialist or visit www.ocutech.com. Ocutech offers a self-assessment questionnaire that will be reviewed by their experts and which provides a personal report about the likelihood that you might be a successful candidate for an Ocutech bioptic.  Visit https://ocutech.com/self-assessment-form/ to complete it.

 

 

“They’re an Eye-Changer, Quite Literally”— How an Ocutech Bioptic changed the life of a new father.

When Luis Angel Aponte’s daughter was born, there were new realities he and his wife knew they would have to face together. Most of them are common to all new parents, but some were especially relevant to Angel and his wife, Nicole.

Born with a visual impairment due to cataracts and nystagmus, Luis knew that sitting behind the wheel of a car, driving his daughter to school, or play-dates, or family trips would not be part of his parental ‘job-description.’ “Sadly, driving because of my low vision was never something I had ever imagined myself doing,” he said. Many of what he saw as his ‘father-daughter’ roles would be the responsibility of his incredibly loving and supportive wife.

But with special telescopic glasses designed for individuals with visual impairments, Luis’ world has never been the same. Luis had put his faith into action and began to research what new technology was available to support his vision issues. In only a few Google searches he discovered Ocutech bioptic telescopes which held the potential for him to not only see better but also possibly make him eligible to get a driver’s license. He immediately contacted his low vision specialist, Dr. Andrea Zimmerman, at the Lighthouse-Guild Low Vision Clinic in New York City, and what happened next has changed his life!

Dr. Zimmerman prescribed an Ocutech VES-Explorer Bioptic telescope, a miniature telescope attached to eyeglasses that magnifies the image, just like binoculars, and which improved Luis’ vision to almost 20/20 when looking through it. “My new bioptics are so amazing, it can’t be put into words— they’re an eye changer, quite literally,” Luis passionately shared. “To everyone who has a visual impairment, I hope they know that they just have to push through, to stay positive, and to remind themselves there may be a way– that way, for me, was Ocutech.”

“A bioptic can be so impactful for individuals with vision impairments. Seeing at a distance can be important both emotionally as well as for one’s independence” said Dr. Zimmerman. “We’re thrilled that they have been so helpful for Luis.”

“Going from having no driver’s license because I could hardly see, to having almost 20/20 vision with my bioptic is huge,” Luis said. “When we realized that getting my driver’s license was possible, my wife and I looked at each other and thought… Not only would I actually be able to drive my daughter one day, but I’d also be able to teach her how to drive. That’s a reality I never thought I’d have. It brings a smile to my face. My Ocutech is what made it happen.”

Until now, not being able to see much at all made him need to learn how to cope with those challenges. He had to accept needing extra help from his teachers in school, needing his friends to describe what was going on around him, and leaning on his wife to support him through his almost daily frustrations with his eyesight. But now Luis cannot believe how much more of the world he can see with his bioptic– including his baby daughter Delilah’s smiles and giggles, and seeing everything going on in the park where she plays. “I feel so much more connected to her and my wife than I ever thought possible,” he said.

“I’ll never forget how my wife once stood across the street and asked if I could see her and I said no— and how she promised me she’ll do everything she could to show me her world,” Luis fondly remembered. “Now, with these amazing glasses, I can see my wife across the street— I can see her world— and that feeling is just indescribable… and exciting.” It also means being able to drive Delilah, his family and himself anywhere they want to go: his new freedom and new level of independence, he says, is exhilarating.

For more information about Ocutech bioptics and to determine whether you might be a promising candidate 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.

 

 

South African Author Finds Visual and Emotional Refuge with Ocutech Bioptics

When Terry-Ann Adams first sat down to write her debut novel, Those Who Live In Cages, she herself was still fighting to get out of some of her own. 

Terry-Ann is no stranger to grit, resilience and bravery; growing up with albinism in South Africa, she is the first to know what it feels like to be an outsider in your home. Moreover, her albinism diagnosis meant that she would grow up with a visual impairment from day one, having to wear goggles to shield her sensitive eyes from the bright sun.

And even though Terry-Ann was visually impaired, she could ‘feel’ the eyes of judgment upon her. She could sense the looks of strangers boring into her back and she wanted nothing more than to break free and feel beautiful in her skin. “It is difficult and frustrating living with a vision impairment,” she said, openly. “To those who don’t share the experience, please try to understand that our eyesight is so precious, so please do not patronize us.” 

Terry-Ann comes from a family of storytellers. A writer at heart, she decided to focus her energy on her career and family. Whether it’s hiking with her husband and son or publishing her impactful book about five women of color who uphold the bonds of friendship and identity— all while persevering against domestic violence, coming of age, ingrained patriarchy and migration— Terry-Ann uses her voice to give a voice to others. The novel is set in Eldorado Park in the south of Johannesburg, the town right outside where she lives in Krugersdorp, South Africa. 

 

Seeing and doing things never thought were possible.

“I believe in creativity as a force that drives me,” Terry-Ann shared of her writing process. “I am empathetic and believe that everyone should be treated fairly and because I didn’t grow up well off, I had to focus on my ambitions rather than my eyesight.”

But that all changed when Terry-Ann put on a pair of bioptics made by Ocutech. Bioptics are miniature telescopes that are attached to regular eyeglasses and just like binoculars, they make images larger and as a result easier to see. Ocutech bioptics enable the user to see much farther away, something Terry-Ann never thought she’d be able to do. 

Ocutech bioptics gave Terry-Ann the independence she never thought she’d have: the opportunity to drive.

“There are so many challenges I’ve had to face before using Ocutech, but not being able to drive was my biggest one,” Terry-Ann admitted, honestly. “I have had to accept that I will have to use our terrible public transport system.” 

Now, after using backabuddy, the author doesn’t have to imagine a world where she’s behind the wheel—she can actually do it! A world where she is able to read her own novel like every other bookworm and see her son and husband from across the room.

When it comes to Ocutech, Terry-Ann is extremely grateful for their quite literal visionary thinking. 

“My bioptic has been by far the most effective visual aid I have ever used,” Terry-Ann said, passionately. “It has truly helped me to see the world with different eyes.”

 

Many thanks to Terry-Ann’s Low Vision Specialist and Provider is Hazel Sacharowitz,, Low Vision Care Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

 

“She Became So Much More Curious”— How a visually impaired 15 Year Old’s World Suddenly Changed

Cheryl Jones didn’t know how to respond after taking her daughter, Leah, to yet another eye doctor to see why her daughter had so much difficulty seeing clearly, when the doctor told them “she’s probably pretending to have such bad eyesight so she can wear cool glasses like her friends.”

Her daughter— who was in fourth grade at the time— couldn’t believe it either.  She’d been struggling since kindergarten to see the board and her friends in her classroom. She had already been to eight specialists by the time of this visit and none could explain why she couldn’t see the TV if she sat on the couch with her parents. She always had to sit right up in front of the screen to be able to see anything.

It was a year later, at age ten, that Leah’s diagnosis was finally made. Upon walking into the room, the doctor saw Leah try to read the eye chart while tilting her head to the side. “He knew straight away what my daughter had—Stargardt’s disease”—a juvenile form of macular degeneration— “It was such a relief to finally know what was going on,” Ms. Jones recalled, thoughtfully.

Stargardt’s disease is a rare genetic eye disease that affects the macula, the central part of the retina that normally provides our sharp 20/20 vision. The disorder impacts about one in 10,000 people. Early on it may be very difficult for eye doctors to diagnose Stargardt’s Disease because the macula can appear normal for many years, prompting some doctors to think that the child might be fibbing. But eventually the macula does begin to change and the diagnosis can be made.

Understanding Stargardt’s Disease

Once her Stargardt’s diagnosis was made, Leah was introduced into the world of low vision aids—special equipment and software that enlarges print to make it easier to see and access.  But not that it was easy! Leah could be found in school rolling her heavy backpack, full of large print materials and bulky equipment like her electronic screen magnifier called a CCTV that has a special camera used to enlarge print. In each classroom, Leah would have to wheel her bag in and set up her equipment, and when she got to high school, it meant doing it sometimes eight times a day. And to get around school with her heavy rolling backpack, she’d have to use the school’s elevator requiring special permissions, forms and signatures— a parent’s nightmare.

“Her school librarian was moved to help us by adding a large print section in the library for Leah. Though it took a long time for Leah to finish reading each book, we felt that her gesture was so kind and sympathetic— it’s just one of many examples of how we’ve learned to navigate the challenges that Leah faces day to day,” her mother explained.

But about one month ago, Leah’s navigation through her visual impairment took a spectacular turn.

 

Leah was referred to Dr. Sonya Braudway, an optometric physician who specializes in low vision rehabilitation in Lakeland, Florida. Working at the Center for Retina and Macular Disease, Dr. Braudway demonstrated a pair of special eyeglasses designed for the visually impaired. These low vision aids, called Ocutech Bioptics, contain miniature telescopes that work like binoculars. In mere moments, Leah felt the ground shift under her feet.

“I’ve never seen her read an eye chart so fast,” Ms. Jones said, smiling. “Suddenly, my mother, my daughter and I all started crying, realizing the miracle that had just happened.”

Leah, whose vision is normally 20/400, can now see 20/60 with her special Ocutech bioptics— a reality made possible by her grandparents who purchased them for Leah when they saw how happy they made her.

“It’s like getting to watch her grow up again overnight,” her mother said. “She’s become so much more curious about the world, because now she can see it, just like any normal kid.”  And since her bioptic is focusable, she can use them to see better at any distance she needs including the TV, her computer, her Nintendo, as well as her art projects.

Low Vision Rehabilitation

Dr. Braudway has prescribed Ocutech bioptics for children many times before. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I can do,” she said.  “The impact that bioptics can have for children can be so profound. It helps them come out of their shell, and the smiles we see when they first begin to use it—oh my! It’s a shame that more families don’t know about this technology.  It can be so pivotal in their children’s lives.”

These days, Leah, now 15, attends Excel Christian Academy in Lakeland, Florida. She’s happily adjusting to her new life as an Ocutech user.  Whether it’s joining her classmates in the hallway instead of riding alone in the elevator, sitting between her parents on the couch to watch television together, finally getting to read signs, go shopping, see her friends and family— and even enjoying trips to the zoo where for the first time she can really see the sloths and giraffes in their pens— Leah is excited about what it all means for her future.

“Now we’ll find her looking at our old wedding photos hanging on the wall, staring at the wedding dress, the flowers and our family’s faces— seeing them all with quite literally a fresh pair of eyes,” Leah’s mother shared. “It’s amazing what a difference these glasses have made for her in such a short period of time; I’m not worrying so much anymore— she’s so much more independent and happy… [the way] every girl her age deserves to be.”

Ocutech bioptics are prescribed by Low Vision Specialists throughout the world.  To learn more about Ocutech bioptics, and whether you, your child, or a loved one might be a candidate contact Ocutech at info@ocutech.com.

 

 

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.