Dave Burdeniuk of Regina has been losing his vision since he was a teenager, but a Canadian product called eSight is giving him hope.
Burdeniuk, 52, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was 13. Retinitis pigmentosa is a degenerative eye disease that causes the person to gradually lose their vision.
Burdeniuk said the condition makes simple tasks dangerous, which is one of the reasons he sought out help.
"I worry about getting to a meeting," he said.
"I worry about safely going to the washroom. I worry about getting to the microwave or the fridge at work. Those are the kind of things where I can get hurt, and so if I can find something that can pull back that and give me back some of the things that I lost, you go for it."
That's when he heard about a new technology to help with vision loss: eSight.
Goggles that enhance vision
The technology looks similar to a pair of goggles and allows the user to see an enhanced version of their surroundings in real time through built-in cameras and two OLED screens. The user can adjust the settings such as contrast and brightness with a remote.
Burdeniuk said eSight is meant to help with multiple conditions related to vision loss, but retinitis pigmentosa traditionally isn't one of them.
Nevertheless, Burdeniuk travelled to a clinic in Toronto to try it. He found the device helped improve his vision.
"I cried, and my wife cried, and the technician cried," said Burdeniuk.
He said on a good day he can read the 20/100 line on an eye chart without eSight, but with eSight he can read the 20/80, 20/60, 20/40, 20/25 and three of five characters on the 20/20 line.
He said eSight allows him to appreciate things that most people take for granted.
"I like the smell of lilacs. I know what they look like, but I haven't been able to see them," said Burdeniuk.
"I could see the inside of a lilac blossom. I can look at my wife's face; I can see her eyes again, and it's been a few years since I've been able to see that, and when you get ordinary things back like that, they really are extraordinary. It's priceless."
Burdeniuk recently purchased the newest model of eSight, which costs about $13,500. Burdeniuk said he's expecting the price to drop, and hopes the technology will be available to anyone experiencing vision loss.
He said he will still lose his vision eventually, but eSight is giving him an invaluable time extension.
"This really does have the ability to change people's lives," he said.
"It is really quite something what a Canadian invention has done."