Kelly Childs, her husband Johnny and son Kirklind all have eye conditions. The severity varies, but all are considered legally blind. But thanks to a device from a company called eSight they will have the ability to see more clearly.
Kelly, 45, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment, at the age of eight.
Before Kirklind was born she had about 21 per cent eyesight, but now is down to five per cent when she wears prescription eyeglasses and 3.5 per cent without them.
With glasses she can see brightness and knows day from night, but she wouldn’t be able to make out someone sitting across the room from her.
Her eyesight issues have meant she’s had to rely on others to do things for her, including housework. For her it’s been 37 years of not knowing any different.
Johnny, 47, and Kirklind, 21, both have Stargardt disease, the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss.
Johnny was diagnosed around age 10.
With both parents having eye diseases it was no shock that Kirklind was also affected. He was diagnosed when he was five.
A few months ago Johnny’s sister, Melanie Joyce, became aware of eSight and its electronic glasses that enable the legally blind to see.
She contacted the company in April and sent off eye reports for all three.
There was a strong indication the device would help Johnny and Kirkland, but Kelly’s condition was worse.
In mid-June they heard she was a candidate and on June 23 she was at eSight’s Toronto office testing out the device.
When she first put on the device there was not much difference.
“When they give you the remote, that’s when you see the change,” said Kelly.
“I was speechless.”
For about 60 minutes she marvelled at everything around her, from the CN Tower to her friend’s earrings and sunglasses on her head and even a plug-in.
As soon as Melanie found out the device worked for Kelly she set into action to ensure the family would be able to get it.
She was just a teen when Kirklind was born, but remembers how the family had to glue peas on the bottles so Kelly would know when to stop pouring milk.
“To have something like this is just life changing,” said Melanie.
Because eSight is a private company the family is not able to get any funding to cover the roughly $14,000 cost of the device and lens that can be interchanged depending on who is using it.
She started a Facebook page — Kelly/Johnny/Kirklind’s Fund For Sight — to ask for donations, held a cold plate dinner, some ticket draws and last weekend held a talent show.
With the support from the people in York Harbour and Lark Harbour, and beyond, she’s raised almost $12,000 and expects she’ll soon be able to place the order for the device.
While in Toronto Kelly was promised that someday she would see again.
“I keep saying to Melanie my 'someday' is near.”