Special glasses help legally blind twin brothers see again – san francisco chronicle gas in oil lawn mower


But how realistic a reversal is for her sons is not clear. Reinson’s vision became as bad as theirs, but it started to improve after a year or two. It’s been almost seven years for Kenny and Justin. Dee said with one of the strains of the disease there is a 4 percent chance for eyesight improvement.

Not much is known about the disease. Sudden bilateral, painless, vision failure develops in young adulthood from 20 to 30 years old and about 95 percent of those affected lose their vision before they turn 50, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.

"It started out as minimal vision loss but then it kept getting worse and we were afraid what will happen if they go completely blind," Dee said. "Which is a possibility with Leber’s. It could go all the way. But at this point it’s not going to get any worse."

Kenny and Justin’s older brother, Chris, experienced vision problems as a result of a head injury from a car accident when he was 14. It was never diagnosed as Leber’s disease but she says it’s possible it was the same thing. His vision improved after several years, Dee said.

"Amazing movie," Justin said. "He can see a little bit better than I can all in all. I was able to see but both of us still missed a bunch of stuff that happened. Just little stupid things that you find out afterward happened. He actually saw it again so he was telling me some things that he saw that time. I was like, ‘really? I was watching the screen. I didn’t see that happen.’"

Kenny and Justin work part-time at ShopRite in Oakland where they stock shelves overnight. Justin was working there when his vision began to go. He said his supervisor is very understanding and gave Kenny a job after his eyesight deteriorated.

Color is key when they are packing the water or soda aisle. Vintage Seltzer has blue labels, for example, and they can match the colors of fruits and flavors. It’s hard to stock different aisles, Justin said, and there is little chance for them to advance and increase their wages.

Kenny receives social security disability benefits from the federal government and is on Medicare, which he said helps. But, Justin doesn’t receive any benefits and fears losing his job if he tries to seek public assistance and it isn’t approved.

The technologically-groundbreaking device uses a high speed, high-resolution camera to project real-time images to the wearer. The feed is then projected in color on near-to-eye OLED screens with unprecedented clarity and virtually no latency or delay, according to the company.

"eSighters" can adjust the color, contrast, focus, brightness and magnification using a 24x feature. They are adjustable and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled so users can stream video and games from a laptop, TV, or tablet. They can also be used to take photographs.

The eSight glasses, the Jongsma twins said, would allow them to get back to living something of a normal life and do many of the things they did before Leber’s took their vision away. They could walk around the corner to the CVS without worrying about bumping into someone or something — like a tree or stop sign.

"I kind of almost in a way feel stuck here," Justin said of his current job. "I want to be able to get full-time at some point especially if this is going to be my condition forever. I’ve come to terms with it but I still would like to improve it and I still would like to try to make a living. These glasses would help with that."

"It would be perfect for activities like that," Kenny said of the glasses. "It would help us see the trail markers or street signs. It’s a pretty amazing piece of technology. I’d love to get outside. Do some more hiking. I used to like just walking. It would feel a lot more comfortable if I could see better."

"The unfortunate reality is that most public sector programs and insurance companies do not yet provide financial support for wearable assistive technologies for low vision — despite their ability to essentially replace the function of a damaged organ," said Laura Chau.