Nick Flores couldn’t see facial expressions from a distance growing up. He had a hard time reading a book without putting it up to his face, or reading a menu at a Starbucks.
This was caused by optic nerve atrophy, damage to the optic nerve that can affect central, peripheral and color vision. Flores’ left eye was barely connected, and because of this, he can barely see out of his left eye, until he came across eSight.
His mother first discovered eSight through a Facebook ad, showing a pair of electronic glasses promising enhanced sight. Following a test demonstration of the glasses, Flores was sold, and began setting up a fundraiser to acquire a pair for himself.
The glasses cost around $10,000 a pair. Flores said the company helps start a fundraiser for each person interested in purchasing a pair, and once $5,000 has been raised, an anonymous donor will supply the extra $5,000 for whoever is seeking eSight, which is exactly what happened in Flores’ case.
“They completely changed my life,” Flores said. “It’s opened a whole new world,” Flores said.
The best point of comparison for these glasses would be Geordi La Forge’s visor in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or the alien’s mask in “Predator.” While they have a pair of prescription glasses underneath the visor, each wearer of eSight’s glasses views the world through an electronic screen, similar to virtual reality. A live feed of what is in front of the user is displayed right in front of their eyes, and the technology provides them with the capability to zoom in, change color and contrast, as well as control focus and brightness.
Additionally, the glasses contain an SD card slot to take photos or video with and an HDMI port to plug into a computer or TV to internally look at through the glasses’ video screen.
“It’s kind of like VR but more for people who are visually impaired,” Flores said.
Now, Flores doesn’t have to close his left eye to focus through his right eye. The glasses have corrected his vision from 20/80 in his right eye and 20/200 in his left eye to 20/40 and 20/80, respectively.
“Having this has felt normal,” Flores said. “Yeah, I’ve got to charge it, but it’s nice when you can go out and see people.”
To qualify for a pair of eSight glasses, those interested must have one of the listed visual impairments the company requires. After filling out a short survey online, Flores said the company sends out an e-mail to the interested party to schedule an appointment for a demonstration.
Flores said he gets stopped often by people in public due to his glasses. He even got stopped at an airport by police, who gave him a body search. But he doesn’t mind the attention.
“I get asked all the time what it is,” he said. “I don’t mind sharing; it’s what I’m doing anyways.”
Flores acts as an advocate for eSight, and is pursuing forming his own organization: Fight for Sight, which he said he wants to use to motivate and advocate for other people who are visually disabled and help fight discrimination in the work force, something he said he’s experienced in the past.
“When most people think of visual impairment, they think you’re born with it. They don’t think visual or mental disability,” Flores said. “My goal is to bring this to the VA and hospitals and school systems and show people ‘hey, this is another option out there for you and this will help you do the things you’ve wanted to do or missed because of an accident.’”