TROY, IL - Heather Buffey and her sister Melinda Craig arrived at their aunt's Troy, Illinois home recently thinking they were joining family and friends for a relative's surprise birthday party. "Mom told us it was for our cousin," said Craig.
When asked to play a game to see who could rip the Christmas paper from the boxes the fastest and keep the gift inside, the sisters jumped at the chance. It wasn't until Craig saw the word eSight written on the side of her box in big, bold, black letters that she realized the so-called surprise birthday party was really a surprise reveal party for her and her younger sister. "I was surprised!" Craig exclaimed. And the eSight glasses, well they were the big reveal. "I didn't expect to get them this soon," Buffey said as she flashed a wide smile.
Craig and Buffey were diagnosed with a rare condition called Autosomal Recessive Hereditary Optic Atrophy, a disorder that causes blindness twenty years ago. The revolutionary eyewear gives sight to the visually impaired by enhancing video in real time then flashing it on two small screens before their eyes.
One of the first things, Buffey did after putting on her eSight glasses was play with her baby girl and feel a great sense of relief. "Now I can watch where she's going," said Buffey. Craig went to a wrestling match. She had gone before, but could only listen to the action. Now, she can watch it, too. "I could see the ring. I could see the platform where the wrestlers were coming from out back. I could see where the announcers are and everything. It was awesome." Craig beamed.
The lightweight glasses look like something from a Star Trek movie. "They`re very cool. I like them," laughed Craig. She even used the glasses to take pictures of her favorite wrestlers and downloaded them onto her computer, which she uses regularly now without lifting it from the table to see what is on the monitor.
The eSight glasses cost $10,000 each, but Angela Seger, the sisters’ mother says she got a discount from the company for buying two pairs at one time. "We got the glasses for $8,500 each. We saved $3,000 by ordering them together," said Seger. The family still owes $8,000 on the glasses. They are having fundraisers and have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to pay for them.
The sisters’ parents marvel at what they can see, especially things they have never seen before. "It wasn't about the want," said Charles Seger, the sisters' father. "This was about the need. For them to see things they've never seen before is awesome." The sisters’ mother, like their father, is simply grateful. "Their lives are changed 100 percent changed. All because of a tiny computer they can wear on their heads. It`s just amazing to me...amazing," Angela Seger said as she held back tears.