Brewer Kalamazoo Rediscovers Vision and Returns to Creative Roots with eSight Device


KALAMAZOO, MI – The CEO and Chief Brewer of Norse Nectar Meadery’s view has come to the point that “for a year and a half there was nothing.”

Hunter Dodge, who was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, lost sight in both eyes over the course of a few months in 2019. He described his vision as trying to look through a double translucent shower pane.

“From a personal perspective, I’m one of those guys that’s creative,” Dodge told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette. “I am a custom bamboo fly rod builder, dealing with measurements down to 10,000ths of an inch. Everything is done with finished hand tools. I hand tie all my flies for fly fishing. I love splitting wood, chopping firewood. Everything (to do with) shooting sports… all of that was gone.

After two reconstructive cataract surgeries, Dodge’s vision improved to 60/20, still not good enough to drive or do anything else that drove him.

Not too long ago, however, the mead maker/brewer had the good fortune not only to be able to see again through the use of a new handheld device, eSight 4reminiscent of Star Trek Geordi La Forge’s visorbut vision so good with the use of the device that he refers to himself as having “bionic vision”.

The visor, he said, magnifies his view 24 times, allowing him to read the numbers of a house over 450 feet away or decipher the police at 8 points on a wall across the room. He can also watch deer and coyotes in the woods, sitting on his back porch in East Leroy Township, Calhoun County.

Not only can he observe deer with the visor, Dodge was able to start hunting again by using the visor’s Bluetooth technology and connecting it to his scope. The visor, which works by recording its surroundings and streaming it to a pair of internal OLED displays in real time, also has the ability to capture photos and video for later viewing.

“It’s literally a Geordi La Forge situation,” he said, while demonstrating how the Braille buttons on the side of the visor allow him to control zoom and contrast, as well as change settings for the put in outdoor mode, indoor mode, reading mode or TV mode through the use of different filters. It can also control settings through the use of a voice command system.

“I can’t even imagine what it would be like for someone who’s had vision problems all their life,” he said. “When I first took that on, it was totally surreal.

“Without it I could see the color, I could see your face. I could see you blinking but you’re silhouetted with light behind you at the door. But I couldn’t recognize you until come closer. That kind of thing is gone now.

Dodge is among more than 3,000 people, primarily in Canada and the United States, who have benefited from using eSight since the company’s first prototype was launched in 2013 by founder Conrad Lewis.

Lewis spent more than three decades developing the product before its launch with the goal of helping his two blind sisters, who both live with Stargadt disease, see, according to the eSight website.

“What drives me is the impact on the patient,” said Roland Matten, director of product marketing. “You have people who, in some cases, have a complete loss of their central vision.

“They can’t read. They can’t watch movies. And in many cases, they’re told there’s nothing they can do, and then here comes this product that uses technology to improve the remaining vision and get them to read, get their jobs back. It’s amazing.

Matten, who has spent 20 years in the field of ophthalmology, said awareness of the product is still in its infancy, and while there are other products that use camera technology and electronic displays to facilitate vision enhancement, many are infused with virtual reality. technology, which does not allow the user to be mobile during use as their peripheral vision becomes completely occluded.

“With our product, you are 100% mobile and able to live independently,” Matten said. “What eSight really does is help individuals, as a whole, get back to independent living so you can go back to work, you can go back to shopping on your own because you can navigate the corridors.

“We treat the vision and we treat the individuals, but we give them and their families back a quality of life.”

The company also provides eSight users with a personal coach, someone who has gone through the same journey and also overcome some of the perils of visual impairment with eSight, Matten said.

For Dodge, he said the coach factor has been huge, having someone to not only help him solve any issues with his product, but also share sight loss stories and learn to live with a different way. to have to.

“Without the eSight, I can’t use a screwdriver,” he said. “I can’t read taps. I don’t like writing with it, but on a computer screen I just put it in write mode.

“I just can’t stress enough how cool this piece of gear is. I have recovered everything I was unable to do due to vision after eye surgeries.

One of the only downsides to the product, right now, is the cost, which Dodge says ran it around $7,000.

Most insurance companies don’t cover it, Matten said, but veterans insurance will. The company also works with fundraising sites like GoFundMe to help members of the eSight community who can’t afford to pay for its devices.

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