Jeff Malachowski Daily News Staff â For years Laura Gregory was unable to read the nutrition facts on food products or see the decorations in her living room.
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, that has changed.
Aided byÂ aÂ pair of innovative eSight glasses, Gregory â who has been legally blind her whole life â can now read the menu at Starbucks and distinguish facial expressions from a distance.
âIt was just amazing looking around the room seeing things on the mantel,â said Gregory, who received the glasses in March. âIâm seeing new things every day. Itâs a huge difference. Even sitting in Starbucks I can look at the door and see who is coming in.â
The glasses are a new technology that grants sight to those whose vision is so impaired that it cannot be corrected with ordinary lenses. The eSight headsets are equipped with a camera that captures what a user is looking at in real time and displays the images on two screens in front of the userâs eyes. Those wearing the glasses can control color, contrast, brightness and zoom.
Gregory â a former teacher’s aide who has been unemployed for the past eight years â could not afford the $10,000 cost to purchase the glasses. Her insurance would not cover the cost either, so she enlisted the help of the Marlborough community, which raised the $10,000 in mere weeks.
The grateful 12-year Marlborough resident hand-writing thank you notes to those who donated.
âTheyâve been life changing,â she said about the glasses and those who helped her buy them.
The glasses have some limitations -Â such as not being useful at the movies andÂ while walking – but they have increasef her independence and safety.
âTheyâve opened new doors for me,â said Gregory, who suffers from neurofibromatosis.
Gregory, 41, estimated she uses the glasses four or five times a day.
Doctors found a tumor on Gregoryâs optic nerve when she was 5 years old. A year later she had 32 radiation treatments. She had her first grand mal seizure at age 21 and was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Eight years ago, doctors determined the cause of her seizures was a malformation that had grown on her right temporal lobe as a result of scar tissue from the radiation treatments. A year later she had a right temporal craniotomy to correct the malformation, which put a halt to the seizures. But her eyesight continued to deteriorate due to swelling in her brain caused by the surgery.
She encourages others who are disabled to persevere. Gregory, 41, is aiming to publish a series of childrenâs books on kids with disabilities.
âDonât let it stop you,â she said. âMy disability does not affect what things I do, it affects how I do them.â
Jeff Malachowski can be reached at 508-490-7466 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JmalachowskiMW.