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Vision quest sees success
After eight years of being legally blind, bank teller crowdfunds device to regain eyesight
jess jackson 3
Jess Jackson has suffered from Stargardt Disease since she was 17. Now 25, she was able to purchase an eSight4 device for about $6,000 thanks to a crowdfunding effort on social media.

MONROE — With just one purchase, local bank teller Jessica Jackson’s life changed. Tasks that used to be nearly impossible for her became every day realities when she crowdfunded enough money to purchase the eSight4, a device intended to help patients with central vision loss.

After being diagnosed with Stargardt Disease at 17, Jackson quickly lost vision to the point of legal blindness. Everyday activities such as reading or using a computer proved difficult and she would often have to zoom in on her computer at work and still hold it as close as possible to her face. If she went to a restaurant, she would often require assistance reading the menu.

“I was super dependent,” said Jackson, now 25. 

With eSight, she is able to work more independently, not having to move her computer close to her face to read or have menus read to her.

The device sits on the head like glasses and a camera catches the images at which the wearer the looking. It then projects the images directly in front of the eyes.

Because it is wireless, the eSight device gives the user the freedom to move around with the device as they please. If the user doesn’t need the camera for any reason, they are able to flip up the visor-like device and put it back down when needed.

“They’re able to actually walk around,” eSight Chief Commercial Officer Brian McCollum said. “They can be 100% mobile.”

Jackson had first heard of the eSight device a few years ago, but the over-$10,000 price kept her from making the leap and purchasing one.

Instead, she subscribed to their email notifications and forgot about them — until she came across an email from them in her spam folder in late 2020.

Seeing that the price had now dropped to $6,000, she decided to apply for a “home experience” — the chance to take an eSight4 home and test it out before making the big purchase. 

She quickly realized that the eSight was for her.

“They help me see things clearly that I haven’t been able to see in almost 10 years,” Jackson said. 

The next step was to pay for the device, so Jackson took advantage of the company’s fundraising program, eMPOWER.

The program works similarly to Go-Fund-Me, with donors contributing through a personalized link. Every cent donated then goes directly toward the purchase of the glasses.

It was less than a month total that I went from finding out about the glasses to trying them out to actually having my own pair. I’m so happy for all of the people in my life that helped me pay for these.
Jess Jackson, Monroe

Jackson posted the link on her Facebook account and in only four days raised enough money to take home her own pair.

“It was less than a month total that I went from finding out about the glasses to trying them out to actually having my own pair,” she said. “I’m so happy for all of the people in my life that helped me pay for these.” 

In the two months since she has had the device, Jackson has seen changes and improvements, as well as an increase in independence. 

“I think if you were trying to describe the perfect candidate for the people that we are trying to help, it would be hard to find something different than what Jessica is,” McCollum said.

At work at the Monroe branch of First National Bank & Trust, she can use the glasses to zoom in on IDs, checks or anything else she may be needing to read. Since she’s able to do that on the device itself, it frees up her hands that would previously have been in use to zoom in or hold a magnifier. 

“It’s just been such a blessing in my life,” Jackson said. “I’m more confident in work now, I’m more confident just being able to do things on my own.”