“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.

 

Time of Flight Technology Enhances the Lives of the Visually Impaired

Technology designed for self-driving cars is now being applied to help low vision individuals see as close to normal as possible.

A project, led by Ocutech, Inc. a developer of vision-enhancing devices for the visually impaired, in collaboration with the engineering firm Image Quality Labs and ESPROS Photonics AG, has created the world’s only self-focusing bioptic telescopes.  Bioptic telescopes allow visually impaired individuals to magnify objects making them easier to see, similar to the use of binoculars. They may provide close-to-normal visual acuity for individuals with vision as reduced as 20/300. But since bioptics must be focused to be used at different distances, they can be inconvenient, if not difficult to use.

What is Time of Flight (ToF) Technology?

Incorporating time of flight (ToF) technology has enabled the development of the Falcon Autofocus Bioptic. By measuring the distance at the speed of light, it allows the device to focus smoothly and immediately to virtually any distance, providing the most natural and easy to use magnification possible. The Falcon incorporates wide-field Keplerian optics and is available in 3x, 4x and 5.5x powers. Weighing just 3.2 ounces (90gm), the Falcon device, mounted onto custom-designed conventional eyeglasses, can be worn comfortably for hours.  It can operate for over 8 hours using its separate rechargeable battery pack.

Young female wearing VES-Falcon Autofocus Bioptic and smiling
Time of Flight Technology Enhances the Lives of the Visually Impaired

Experienced manual focus bioptic wearers report how much easier and more natural the Falcon is to use.  Intended for individuals with central vision loss from disorders including Macular Degeneration, Stargardt’s Disease, Albinism, Nystagmus, Optic Atrophy, Achromatopsia and other Photo-receptor disorders, the Falcon, as well as Ocutech’s manual-focus versions have helped individuals of all ages throughout the world, allowing them to fully engage in the world around them such as to see signs while traveling and shopping, the board in school, recognize faces of friends and family, and where legal, perhaps even drive.

How to Obtain More Information

Ocutech bioptic telescopes are available through low vision specialists throughout the world.  Contact Ocutech for more information at 1-800-326-6460 or bioptics@ocutech.com. Visit Ocutech’s website for additional contact information!

ESPROS Press Release

https://www.espros.com/time-of-flight-technology-enhances-the-lives-of-the-visually-impaired/

 

VES-Falcon Autofocus Bioptic Brings Tears of Joy

We received this amazing letter from one of Ocutech’s favorite prescribers and would like to share it with you. Thank you Dr. Fuhr for your kind words.

Falcon is One-of-a-Kind Device

Image of Dr. Patti Fuhr with veteran Patient wearing Ocutech Falcon Autofocus Bioptic My first experience with the new 4x Falcon autofocus bioptic telescope brought tears to my eyes– tears of joy. This type of system has been only a dream for so many years, for patients, and for prescribers. The previous version of the Ocutech autofocus has not been available for a few years, which left a void in my low vision rehabilitation prescribing practices. An autofocusing, wearable telescopic system is more appropriate for many persons with visual impairment who also have manual dexterity problems, tremors, shoulder or arm issues, or simply slow reaction times. An autofocus is also more appropriate for heavy users of telescopic systems, such as students, teachers, public speakers, and technical persons. And it can be prescribed for driving for appropriate candidates.

The Ocutech system is not a heavy box that sits on the face and eliminates the outside world. It is a telescopic system that mounts on a regular pair of glasses and provides a seamless transition in focus from 13 inches to optical infinity and anywhere in between. Also, it is an autofocus OPTICAL system, so it feels like normal vision magnified through a telescope. The Falcon is much more natural than any of the head borne video magnification systems available today. And, as with most distance viewing devices, it helps people feel more connected to the world beyond the limitations of their visual impairment.

New Powers are Now Available

Recently, Ocutech introduced 3x and 5.5x versions of the Falcon. I was amazed at the appreciable increase in the field of view with the 3x version (15 degrees) and the lightning speed at which it focuses. The 5.5x version has a good field of view (9.5 degrees) for a high power telescope and its optics are also nice and sharp.

All versions of the Falcon are astonishingly easy to fit and prescribe. The Ocutech website has videos that walk the prescribing doctor through the process, and prescribers can always call Ocutech for any questions or help necessary. They are very accessible, knowledgeable, and willing to help. Since the optics are basically the same as the manual focus systems, if you can’t afford new fitting systems, it is easy to demonstrate and fit with the Ocutech manual systems that are currently in many low vision rehabilitation offices. The frames are the same as used in the manual systems, and the parameters can be verified on the website.

I urge any prescribers to consider these autofocus bioptic systems for any patients interested in distance viewing enhancement. Personally, I have prescribed almost a dozen 4x autofocus systems to date, and all patients have been successful. I am thrilled that the 3x is now available, as it is appropriate for so many persons with mild to moderate visual acuity loss. It bridges the gap between the 1.7x and 2x SightScope Galilean bioptic telescope systems and the 4x autofocus. The cost of the autofocus systems is similar to that of many of the head borne video systems that, in my opinion, can’t compete with the Falcon. 

Autofocus Bioptic is a Game-Changer

Ocutech has brought great advances in technology to the practice of low vision rehabilitation, concentrating on the fairly neglected, but oh so important, study and application of technology to the field of distance vision enhancement. The autofocus bioptic systems allow seamless focus from distance to near, simply by looking at the object of interest. It allows the wearer to focus more on what they want to see rather than dealing with the technology with which they must interact. That, my friends, is a game-changer, for prescribers as well as patients with visual impairment.