New glasses give hope to C.B. woman with eye disease

A young Cape Breton woman with a severe form of juvenile macular degeneration says she has a fresh outlook on life because of new technology that has the power to give her some of her eyesight back.

Caelin Romeo, of North Sydney, began losing her sight when she was 13 years old and was diagnosed with a rare condition called Stargardt disease two years later.

"Even if I was looking at a face, depending on how close I was to the person there is a blind spot in the middle of their face," she told CBC News.

"If I'm sitting across the table from you I probably won't see your face if I look straight on. But if I look to the side, I can kind of see it but I can't tell what colour your eyes are, if you have freckles. Details — it's just not there for me."

Romeo said she had resigned herself to her condition until a friend from university told her about new glasses designed by eSight Corp., which look like goggles and cost $10,000 each.

"They look like sunglasses, but they are very thick and they have two video cameras inside of them," she explained.

Romeo tried the glasses on recently and said she could see for the first time in a decade.

"My parents were crying and stuff. I was like, 'This is cool,'" she said.

"I could only read the second line from the top, the 20/400 line on the eye chart. When I put the glasses on, I could read the 20/30 line."

Tanya Romeo, Caelin's mom, said family and friends are pitching in to help cover the cost of the $10,000 glasses. A stranger living in Alberta has already raised thousands of dollars on her behalf.

"Caelin went to school with someone that he knows and he took it upon himself to go around. He has $4,000," she said.

Romeo is hoping to buy the glasses in January.

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