For 12 years, Christopher Ward Jr. was never able to see his mother. But in an emotional moment captured on camera, the Virginia fifth grader tried out eSight electronic glasses and laid eyes on her for the first time.
“As a mother going 12 years with your child not being able to clearly see — I don’t really have words for it,” Marquita Hackley told the Daily News. Christopher, who was born with an optic nerve that wasn’t fully developed, has only been able to see shapes and colors. He’s only been able to make out images by getting really close — and can only watch TV by sitting with his nose to the screen, the 32-year-old mom explained.
That’s the premise behind eSight, which uses a high-speed camera to record video live and then display it on LED screens located right in front of the wearer’s eyes.
Hackley discovered the gadget through a news show about wearable electronic sight technology.
“Someone else had bought the glasses and I was kind of skeptical,” Hackley told the Daily News.
“Then, this year I ran across it again and I asked one of his vision teachers about it.”
The device doesn’t work for all types of blindness — but Hackley decided to have her son give eSight a try.
They set up an April trip to Washington, D.C.
to do a demo, recorded by ABC News for a special.
As soon as Christopher put on the glasses, his mom recalled, he said, “Oh Mommy, there you are.”
“He knew it was me,” Hackley marveled.
“It was very heartwarming and it was amazing.”
During the hour-long try-out, Christopher got to see his mother, and a teacher who came along. He read a little, even though he doesn’t have much experience reading with his eyes.
Also, he got to check out his favorite TV show.
“We put the glasses up to a phone and he got to watch ‘SpongeBob’ on YouTube and it was neat to be able to have him see a full screen,” Hackley said. Normally, Ward would have to sit too close to see the entire screen.
Although the demo went really well, Hackley didn’t think her son would be able to get his own pair of the fantastic frames — the price tag was $15,000.
Then, ABC aired its segment on the family, and donations came pouring in.
“Within minutes, we shot well above our goal of $15,000,” she said.
Now, they just have to order the fifth grader his own pair. With the money left over, Hackley plans to start a trust fund to take care of her son’s future.
Christopher will also get to learn how to read and write.
Currently, he does all his school assignments on a Braille typewriter and his textbooks are ordered special every year.
He doesn’t go to a special school, but he gets a lot of one-on-one time with teachers.
Now, when he gets that one-on-one time, he’ll actually be able to see them.
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