High-tech eyewear improves Taylorsville 8-year-old's vision

Newfound sight

Posted

Viewing the world around him in “beautiful clarity,” Malachi Goltz is experiencing a bevy of firsts at age 8. With his new eSight eyewear, the Taylorsville resident’s low vision is now at least 20/20, bringing never before seen objects to life. 

I was bouncing off the walls,” Malachi said, referring to learning he would receive the electronic glasses. “[I] could not wait until it got here. I asked every day if it was going to be here that day. After it shipped, I would ask mommy several times a day to check the tracking to see where it was at. We couldn't wait on the UPS man to bring it, so we arranged to pick it up ourselves at the UPS location early that morning.

“I was jumping up and down,” he said about wearing his eSight glasses for the first time April 13. “I could see clearly across [the] room. It was amazing. I was so excited. I didn't even know how to work the controls, but I figured it out really quick. I could see anything I wanted to.”

Echoing her son’s enthusiasm, Malachi’s mother, Chrysti Goltz, was delighted to see him unwrap and look through his high-tech glasses.

“We were so excited for him,” Goltz said. “I was trying to take pictures when he was opening the [eSight] box but he was going so fast that they all came out blurry. He was shocked and amazed when he learned how to use the controls and what all it could do. It almost makes me cry to hear him say that he is seeing something for the first time. We had a video call with someone from eSight that actually uses eSight himself to teach us how to use them. We are able to contact him whenever we need help or have concerns.

“Anyone who wears glasses knows how much clearer everything is when they wear them. That's what eSight does for Malachi. His regular glasses only slightly improved his vision. With them, he was only able to see 20/100 in one eye and 20/200 in the other. We don't know what his vision is without them. That means that what he sees at 20 feet looks like it is 100 or 200 feet away. With the eSight glasses, he can see 20/20 or better.”

With the touch of his remote, Malachi can enlarge images, as well as alter their brightness, contrast and color.

“When we talk about something across the room, he would have to go right up to it to see it,” Goltz said. “Now he can see it from where we are. When we're outside, we see the insects or birds hopping and flying around. When he tries to get close enough to see them, they run or fly away. Now he gets to see them without scaring them away. Sometimes he just says that something is too far away, he can't see it. But he has not said that since he has gotten the eSight glasses.

“He doesn't have to hold books and things 2 [to] 3 inches from his face now. He can see them from much farther away. He can even change the text and background colors and customize the contrast to where he can see it the best. And now he doesn't have to sit on a stool 1 foot from the TV to watch a movie but can sit on the couch with us.”

Established in 2006, eSight is assisting individuals in more than 42 countries, who are living with low vision and legal blindness.
“After putting the electronic glasses on, eSight allows the wearer to see, almost instantly and in beautiful clarity,” said Laura Chau, marketing manager for eSight. “In the most simplistic sense, eSight works in three steps. The high speed, high-resolution camera in the center of the device captures what a user is looking at in real time. This video feed is sent into a powerful computer in the housing of the glasses and is enhanced using proprietary algorithms. The feed is then projected in color on the two near-to-eye OLED screens with unprecedented clarity and virtually no latency or delay. 

“eSighters can then optimize what they are looking at by using the remote to adjust the color, contrast, focus, brightness and magnification 24 times features. Not only does eSight let wearers actually see, but it also allows them to be truly mobile using the patented Bioptic Tilt Capability. eSighters can tilt the eyewear device to the ideal position for them that can allow the best view of the video feed while maximizing their natural peripheral vision. This, along with short latency, ensures that the eSighter’s balance is not disturbed and no nausea occurs a common problem faced with immersive technologies, such as virtual reality headsets.”

She continued, “Another fun feature about eSight is it allows individuals to take pictures, and stream video and games by plugging into a laptop, TV or tablet with an HDMI cable, or connecting with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. That way, whether it is streaming a favorite series at home, taking pictures of notes on the classroom board or whipping through emails at the office, our eSighters can always be connected.”

Aiding people with a host of visual impairments, eSight presently is assisting individuals ranging in age from 4 to 101.

“Today, our current eSighters live with a variety of conditions, including but not limited to aniridia; cataracts; coloboma; cone-rod dystrophy; diabetic retinopathy; glaucoma; ocular albinism, like in Malachi's case; macular degeneration; retinopathy of prematurity (ROP); Stargardt's disease; optic neuritis; retinal detachment; and many more,” Chau said. “According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 253 million people in the world who are living with more severe forms of visual impairment.

“Less than 15 percent of this population [is] profoundly or totally blind. Unfortunately, eSight cannot currently help these individuals. However, eSight can work for most of the remaining 85 percent of this population.”

As Chau noted, Malachi was diagnosed at 5 months with ocular albinism lack of iris pigmentation and an involuntary eye movement known as nystagmus.

“They told us that he could be legally blind the rest of his life,” Goltz said. “He got his first pair of glasses at 6 months old. They were hard to keep them on him as a baby. He would keep pulling them off. In fact he broke that first pair in half less than a week after getting them. He would always cry if we took more than a couple of steps away from him because he couldn't see us then. We tried to find resources that could help us but it was very difficult. No one knew of anything. We now know that he is not legally blind, but he has low vision. His vision is not correctable with lenses like most people's are.

“A family member saw an ad for [eSight] and shared it with us. We looked into it and [were] skeptical at first. We did some research and watched a few videos of people trying it for the first time and thought that it might be something that would help Malachi. So we scheduled an appointment for a demo where Malachi could try them on for a few minutes to see if it really helped him. We had to wait a few weeks and Malachi was counting down the days. He was excited to get to try them. The demo went well, and they confirmed that he could see 20/20 with them. We even [met] a local person who had recently got eSight herself, and we were able to ask questions.”

Due to eSight’s cost, Goltz said she and her husband, Jonathan, thoroughly considered whether to obtain the high-tech glasses for their young son.

The price of the eSight eyewear is $10,000,” Goltz said. “We were concerned about getting such an expensive device for an 8-year-old boy. We wanted to make sure that he understood that it wasn't a toy and that he had to take care of them. We took our time making the decision. We didn't want to rush into it.

“Then we received a call from eSight saying that Malachi had been chosen for a grant in the amount of $3,200. They said that would only be available for a limited time, about a month, so we had to act quickly. We were required to make a $500 deposit to start the process.”

Reaching out to the community for needed funds, the Goltz family is “grateful” for the outpouring of support. 

“[eSight’s personnel] greatly helped us with raising the money, finding grants that we could apply for, giving us advice on how to spread the word,” Goltz said. “We shared it with all of our friends on Facebook and a lot of them did the same.

“We are blessed with very loving, caring and generous family and friends who helped us by donating. Just 10 days after we began sharing his giving page, we had reached the goal and placed the order. We want to thank everyone who helped in any way by praying, sharing or giving. It was all important. We can't explain how grateful we are to all of you.”