The North Bend Eagle


Father sees daughter for the first time

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 6/8/16

When Chris Dirkschneider was given the opportunity to see for the first time in 29 years, the first thing he wanted to see was his 10-year-old daughter, Ilse. And he did.

SeeingChirs Dirkschnedier saw his daughter Ilse clearly for th first time May 19 with the help of special glasses that cost $15,000.

Dirkschneider, 50, grew up in the Webster area and now lives in Fremont. He was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. By age 20 he was legally blind.

There are over 300 million blind people in the world. Eighty-six percent of them have low vision, 20/70 or poorer. Only about 14 percent of the blind are completely or profoundly blind.

A low vision device called eSight has been developed to help those with low vision. This eye wear is a new class of wearable, electronic assistive technology designed specifically for low vision. It incorporates a high-resolution video camera and a bright, high contrast, virtual display for each eye. ESight is programmed for an individual’s eye condition.

The family heard about eSight glasses on a television show. Last month Chris, his wife Elizabeth and daughter attended the Outlook Nebraska community resource fair for people dealing with vision loss and Chris was able to try on a pair.

“I can honestly say that this was the first time in my life that I was able to see in detail my daughter’s face and was able to see my wife’s face in detail that I haven’t been able to see for I don’t know how long,” Dirkschneider said. “They told me I didn’t stop smiling the whole time I had them on.”

Dirkschneider does have some peripheral vision, his vision is rated at 20/400, with 20/20 vision being normal. With the glasses he was able to read the eye chart to 20/15.

But here comes the stumbling block — the glasses cost $15,000, a cost prohibitive to the Dirkschneider family. But family and friends have come to his support, making donations to help Chris get theses glasses. An account has been set up at First National Bank Northeast, 2300 Laverna, Fremont, NE 68025.

“I really didn’t think I was missing much in life with my vision the way it is because I’m so used to it,” Dirkschneider said. “But today as I looked around with the glasses on, I actually realized how much I am missing out on. It was amazing to see things clearly instead of everything blurry.”

<<Back to the front page