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According to a World Health Organization study in 2010, 285 million people suffered from visual impairment attributed to macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, or other visual conditions. As our population ages worldwide, the incidence of these conditions is bound to increase. My late mother had advanced macular degeneration and relied on a heavy table top reading machine, a powered and lighted stand-mounted magnifying glass, or friends to read aloud to her. When she was out of her apartment, she was entirely reliant on others to help her with such everyday activities as reading menus, making change, writing checks, or reading labels.

NuEyes has developed lightweight, wearable solutions for people with macular degeneration and other diseases that is based on 1x-14x magnification from an HD camera mounted in the center of a custom headset that looks like a slightly larger than normal set of eyeglasses. The camera image is projected on frame-mounted displays. The original version called NuEyes Easy is available now for $5,995; a Pro version due later in 2016 will include an onboard Android computing system for Internet browsing, email, and social media. Both NuEyes versions support voice control through a series of menus and a text-to-speech feature. With onboard WiFi and Bluetooth, you can stream television content to the in-frame displays and send the audio content to Bluetooth compatible headsets and hearing aids.

The tasks of everyday life that most of us take for granted such as reading and writing, playing games, reading street signs, and even recognizing friends and loved ones are denied many with visual impairment, especially when they are outside their homes without more conventional aids. For the last few years of her life my mother had to ask if it was me when I walked into her apartment or met her at a restaurant because, as is common with macular degeneration, she could not see clearly in her center of vision. The independence afforded by devices such as the NuEyes can go a long way to improving quality of life.