- Kathy Beitz, 29, is legally blind – she lost her vision as a child and, for a long time, adapted to living in a world she couldn’t see
- Technology called eSight glasses allowed Kathy to see her son on the day he was born
- The glasses cost $15,000 and work by capturing real-time video and enhancing it
- Has Stargardt disease, a condition that causes macular degeneration
A mother who is blind was able to see her newborn son for the very first time after using a special piece of high-tech eyewear.
Kathy Beitz, 29, from Guelph, Ontario, was able to use a device that allowed her to see her baby just hours after he was born.
she gasps and says ‘Oh my god!’ as she holds baby Aksel in her hospital bed for the first time.
‘Look at his long toes,’ she says. ‘I think he looks like us.’
While she now has some peripheral vision, she developed a blind spot in the centre of her field of vision and is legally blind.
The special glasses developed by the firm eSight is equipped with a video camera from which the images are enhanced and projected onto high definition screens in front of the eyes.
About 140 people have eSight glasses in North America,
The wearer can then adjust the contrast, brightness and shadow to make things easier to see.
‘Their eyes actually perceive more when they look at the screen than they can with their natural eyesight,’ said Taylor West, a spokesman for eSight to CBC.
‘For the first baby that I get to actually look at being my own is very overwhelming,’ she told the camera.
‘The moment I got the glasses, I was very ready to put them on,’ said Ms Beitz. ‘I got to see that he had my husband’s feet and toes, and I got to see that he had my lips.
‘My husband and I got to have the family experience of looking at our brand new baby, and bonding with him and falling in love with him.’
The glasses have changed her life profoundly. She said they make it much easier for her to care for the infant, go to the grocery store and complete other tasks that would otherwise be difficult.
At a cost of $15,000, the device doesn’t come cheap, however, the company has a fundraising department that helps people purchase the glasses.
The company is even trying to persuade insurers to make a contribution through healthcare plans.
Ms. Beitz sister also suffers from Stargardt disease and now works for the company that developed the spectacles.
She says she is forever grateful that her sister decided to purchase the glasses for her, although over time she will pay her back.
‘Being a person with a disability who has two children of her own, she knew the struggles of being a legally blind or blind parent. So she was very adamant about getting the glasses for me and work with me to use them, so when I did have him, I got to experience everything that she didn’t,’ said Beitz.
‘When I knew I was getting the glasses, I got very excited. I knew then I would be able to read books to the baby and be a part of that experience … it gave a huge independence to my parenting skills.’