June 10, 2008
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Do you believe in miracles? Some people would say what happened to a group of vision impaired youngsters is close to miraculous. The kids went through a program to test their vision and left not only seeing but seeing well!
Michael Chillous is 16 years old. The eleventh grader still needs his mother to read to him at night. That's because he needs help with his homework and he's disturbed about his future. "I don't think I'll be able to drive in the future because my vision is so bad."
That's why he went to the Low Vision Clinic . It's for youngsters like Michael who have to hold the material so close to his face his nose practically on it. He tries reading with his glasses and a magnifying glass but the magnifying glass doesn't help and neither do his glasses. Dr. Dawn DeCarlo is the Optometrist who examined him. "All glasses do is take light and perfectly focus it on the retina. If the retina can't capture that correctly or the brain can't process it correctly then glasses don't do the trick. They don't make you able to see all the things you want to see."
And, the doctor says, not even surgery would solve his problem. However, from now on he'll be able to see distances with the use of a telescope. That means he'll be able to see what the teacher puts on the board. And a machine that magnifies books or anything else placed inside of it will help him do his homework. It also helps kids not only read but paint their fingernails and in Michael's case, make model cars. Michael thinks both pieces of equipment will help him live more independently. "Sometimes I have to ask people to help me out if I'm trying to read something far off. Far off? Yeah, like something far off in the distance like a sign"
Jeff Haddox started Sight Savers America ten years ago because he couldn't stand to see what poor eyesight was doing to kids. "Some of them are very courageous and work very hard and adapt to the vision they have. What we want to do is give them a vision aid equipment that will allow them to do even better with it."
The Low Vision Clinic saw eight youngsters in Montgomery on Wednesday. They all took home equipment that will help them see better. That equipment costs in the thousands of dollars but they got it all for free.