Logan, a Grade 2 student at St. James Catholic Elementary School in Walden, was born with albinism and is legally blind due to a lack of pigment in his eyes.
“If he looks outside at the grass it looks like a blanket of green,” said his mother, Melissa Lariviere. “He doesn't see the individual blades of grass.”
But thanks to a new high-tech visor by Ottawa-based eSight Corporation, Logan is able to make out those details for the first time.
“I didn't think these would exist in my lifetime,” Lariviere said.
She thought a medical cure may have been possible for Logan's condition, but never expected a technological fix would help him see more clearly.
Lariviere first heard about the eSight visor from her co-workers, who saw it featured on a television program. She dismissed it at first, but later got to see the device in person, when she and Logan went to a music camp organized by the W. Ross MacDonald School for students who are visually impaired and blind, in Brantford, Ont.
The school principal had an eSight visor on hand and invited Logan to try it.
“He noticed my hair, then he looked at my mom and was talking about what she looked like,” Lariviere said.
She made it her goal to get her son an eSight visor. The only problem was one device costs $9,750.
To raise the funds, Lariviere appealed to her friends and family to help her raise the money she needed to help Logan.
She also asked the Walden Lions Club for assistance. They donated $2,000 to the cause.
Through bake sales and other small fundraising events, they were able to raise the rest they needed and purchased an eSight visor in late January.
Conrad Lewis, an engineer and entrepreneur who was inspired by his two sisters, who are both legally blind, founded eSight in 2006 to create an effective and mobile visual aid.
Kevin Rankin, eSight's president and CEO, said none of the visual aids on the market met Lewis' standards.
With funding from angel investors, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s Investing in Business Innovation Initiative, the Southern Ontario Fund for Investing in Innovation, Ontario Centres of Excellence and the MARs Discovery District Investment Accelerator Fund, Lewis was able to perfect the eSight device.
Rankin said the eSight visor differs from other visual aids because of its mobility. Other devices on the market cannot be used on the go and are only suitable for a stationary office environment, he said.
But the eSight includes only a light black visor and a controller, about the size of a paperback novel, that can adjust the colour, contrast and zoom in up to 14 times.
The visor has a camera on the front and two light-emitting diode (LED) screens that project real-time images near the user's eyes. They allow a person with impaired vision to see more detail, and even enlarge things like text in a book or on a computer screen.
Logan even uses his eSight visor to watch TV by attaching an RCA cable to the remote. He can then look away from the television, since the image is projected right in front of his eyes.
Rankin said the technology will improve over time, and the company may one day be able to phase out the remote, and have everything built into the visor.
He said the company is also pushing for governments and insurance companies to provide more financial assistance for people who need visual aids like the eSight device.