New technology restores sight of blind Austin-area woman

Woman needs new technology to help her see

MANOR, TEXAS -  Jan Cruz's life today is dramatically different compared to four years ago.

"I was working before. Had a wonderful job at a construction company. I was an accounting and office manager and I lived and breathed work and home with family" she said. 

Now, her days are filled with caring for her cat and watching a television she can barely see.

"I don't have any peripheral vision at all so I can barely...see," Cruz explained. 

The sight that she does have is extremely limited. While Cruz can see figures, she can not make out details. For instance, she can see a person standing in front of her but can't see their eyes or any other features on their face. She is legally blind. 

At age 11 she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and her vision suffered due to the effects diabetic retinopathy has on her eyes.

"As I got older, they got worse. When I got pregnant, they got real bad," Cruz said. 

Cruz was still able to work, but in 2012, an accident changed that. 

"I missed a step and had a fall down the stairs," Cruz said, "and I think they said I might have hit my eye in a certain way."

Life since then, "it's uh, it's tough," she said. 

But this past July, she found hope in Canadian-based company eSight's electronic glasses.

"The way that it works is there's a video camera in the headset that captures the video of what's going on in front of someone and then we process that video and present on a pair of very high-definition, organic, LED displays that are presented right in front of the user's eyes and there's some advanced optics in there that actually allows them to see where they couldn't see before," explained Brian Mech, CEO of eSight.

The glasses only work for about 80% of the people who try them. Cruz is in the 80%.

"I put them on and I and looked at my mom and dad my husband and my daughter, and I could see them," Cruz said smiling. "I could see their eyes, I could see their faces. I could see their smiles and the tears in their eyes because they knew I could see again."

But like most new technologies that can't be easily mass-produced, the glasses come at a high cost. Each pair is $15,000 and insurance companies don't chip in to help cover the costs. eSight helps customers raise the money with a fundraising platform that doesn't charge fees.

Cruz is working to raise enough money and hopes to have the glasses by January 2018 when her only child, Jordan, is getting married.

"It's everything to me," said Cruz. "My one daughter, it's my one time to see her walk down the aisle and I don't want to miss seeing as much of her as I can."

So, Jan will keep trying to get the glasses that she says will not only restore sight, but also her independence.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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