"Feels like I have bionic sight."

Hayley Pelletier
Hayley Trying Electronic Glasses Acesight at the Chicago Lighthouse in Illinois.

About My Vision

My name is Hayley. I am 18 years old. I have Bilateral Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH). That means my optic nerves are under developed. My right eye is my good eye. I can see outlines and major details up close. I can see where the features on someone’s face are located, but I can’t see their eyelashes, eyebrows, eye color, where their eyes are looking, if they have make up, or if they make quick facial expressions. I can focus better the closer something is. For me to read print, it has to be on the larger side, and it has to be close. I can’t make out objects from too far away either. My vision is centralized more to the left, but in front of me nonetheless. My left eye has only slight light perception. That is only when I cover my right eye and focus.

I have Esotropia, which means I have no peripheral vision. I can’t glance out of the corner of my eye or anything like that. My field of vision is in front but more to the left.

I have Nystagmis. My eyes move around a lot. I can’t keep them still for very long. Depending on how long I’m focusing on something and how intensely, I will get a head ache and need to take a break from using my vision. It’s hard for me to stay on one line of print due to my Nystagmis, which doesn’t help with the trouble focusing factor.

I do better when things are in higher contrast when it comes to reading or identifying colors. When it comes to reading, I prefer black text on a white background. I prefer to see things around me generally when I’m not trying to focus on something specific just the way they are with some help, but I do wish I could see better.

About My Tech

I use a BrailleNote Touch, Braille is my reading medium in school, I use the OrCam MyEye when I want descriptions of things, or when I want to get something done faster as descriptive and auditory things are better for that. I use Seeing AI on my iPhone for quick things. I have a hand held CC TV magnification device that I use when I want to read something myself. That is good for certain things. I use zoom on my iPhone when needed, and I use VoiceOver. I tend to alternate between the two depending on convenience, and how quickly I need to get something done. I use VoiceOver on my MacBook Pro constantly. It never gets turned off. I have a white cane as well.

Acesight And Me

Today's date is Monday, September 24th, 2018. I saw Acesight for the first time today. At first, I couldn’t see clearly. There was a lot of glare and I couldn’t seem to focus on the screen near my right eye. I had the idea to take my glasses off. Then I saw better. I could see so many things that I couldn’t see before.

I watched TV, and I saw the clothes of the people, eye color, make up on the girl on the show, I was able to identify the setting of an ad too. When watching the show, different Jimmy Kimmel segments, I was able to see that he might have been wearing a polyester jacket. I know how polyester feels, so I was able to put the texture I already knew with what it actually looked like.

When I looked at the people around me, I was able to see details from far away that I couldn’t even see close up. I saw my grandfather look at the window then back at the person he was having a conversation with. I thought sighted people only just looked at the person or people they were talking to the whole time, but I guess not.

I wasn't able to read a computer screen, but I did it. I saw a phone screen from an arm’s length away. Usually, even with zoom, I hold the phone extremely close to my face. I saw a picture clearly.

I was able to read a strawberry shortcake recipe pretty fluently. I had to stop for a second every once in a while to let my eyes wander or close for a second because they kept getting tired or Nystagmis got in the way and urged my eyes to move around. I read with confidence after some practice.

When I looked around the room, everything was nice and close and clear. The real-time video the screen made followed me with no trailing. It wasn't chooppy either. When my eyes needed a break and I wasn’t reading or I wanted to walk and look at where I was going, I was able to simply look to the left with just my eyes and see the regular way I see just fine.

I was astonished at the way Acesight helped me so much. I could have just stared at the TV for hours. It didn’t matter what I was watching, I was just fascinated at what I was seeing from farther away than I ever could. I’m told this is supposed to be as close to normal sight that it can be, and that sighted people see details like that from far away all the time, but I honestly find that hard to believe. I feel like that was bionic sight. I wanted to see everything. I was shocked and happy. I have never had an experience like that before. It’s one thing to envision things in your head or have things described to you, but it’s another thing to be able to see things for yourself, especially when you never could.

At the end of October, I will be trying Acesight at home, in school, and out in the world, and seeing what it’s like out there. One of the first things I want to do is see my cat’s face. All I can make out, even close up, is his nose and mouth. I want to see his eyes and his face in general more clearly and detailed. I want to be able to say, “oh yeah, I can see that.” I can’t describe how it felt to be able to see like that, and that detail. I have never seen so much detail in my life. It was shocking, freedom, and unbelievable. I was even able to make things big enough where I didn’t get a head ache from having to focus too much. It was an experience I will never forget and I can’t wait to see what’s to come. I’ll write again when I’m reviewing what it was like to use Acesight in the world. Until then.

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