Judy’s Macular Dystrophy Story & How She Got Back to Sewing again with eSight

November 8, 2022

Meet Judy Smith from Plymouth, Michigan. Diagnosed with macular dystrophy, Judy is a recent wearer of the eSight 4.

Vision Loss (Macular Dystrophy) from a Young Age

Judy began losing her vision during her high school years. Seeing the blackboard at school became harder and harder by the day. By the time she turned 20, doctors had diagnosed her with macular degeneration. Judy would later find out, however, that a more accurate diagnosis was macular dystrophy.

“I just knew something was wrong and my doctor knew it was something glasses weren’t going to take care of. Back then they called every (disease that affected) central vision ‘macular degeneration.’ So he sent me to the University of Michigan to a specialist and he diagnosed me with macular degeneration, and just promptly said ‘I’m sorry but there’s nothing we can do for you.”

Judy gradually lost more of her vision. A lifelong seamstress, she found that sewing became harder and harder. Eventually, she had to give it up entirely. By the time she was in her mid-30s, she could no longer drive and had to have her husband accompany her wherever she went. She would later find out that her condition was hereditary, and was passed down to both her daughter and granddaughter.

“We found this out several years ago and that’s when I was diagnosed with macular dystrophy because there was a mutated gene that my daughter, myself, and her daughter has, and some of my extended family also has. It’s new enough that they haven’t found anything to help with it yet.”

Discovering eSight

Judy discovered eSight by scrolling through Facebook. At the time, she was content with her assistive devices. Having had her condition for so long, she had adapted and was going through life with the help of our supportive husband, as well as a myriad of other technologies. She was using magnifiers, prism glasses, a desktop reader, and of the help of those closest to her. She then told her daughter about eSight, and soon her daughter had an eSight device of her own.

“My daughter tried it out and actually got herself one so that she could work again. She wasn’t able to work for several years. That was our first introduction to eSight and I did try her’s at the time. She’s got an eSight 3 but I felt that I wasn’t ready for that at that point – this was probably 6-7 years ago.”

Judy continued to use her own devices, but saw how much the eSight 3 had helped her daughter. While tempted, she was hesitant until seeing all the improvements that came with the new eSight 4.

“The eSight 3 was more cumbersome having a battery pack and I thought I had enough devices that I could get along for a while without that. But then when the new one came along and I found out about that, I thought, ‘Well look at that!’”

Life with eSight

Judy began using her eSight during the Summer of 2022. After a consultation with the eSight team, she received her model and was able to try out the eSight 4 for herself.

“I called them and I ordered the model to try out. So I had the sample. When I first tried it out, I was with my coach on Zoom and he walked me through it and it was pretty amazing. I mean I knew from trying out my daughter’s kind of what to expect, but when I realized it had a lot of different functions it was really nice. It was a positive experience and I just practiced almost 2 weeks before I made my decision that I was going to have one of my own.”

Knowing what to expect from having tried her daughter’s eSight 3, Judy was impressed with the improvements that came with the eSight 4.

With the eSight 4, Judy was able to gain back her independence. She can now go grocery shopping by herself and find the items she is looking for without any help. She also has been able to cook by herself and use her eSight to read recipes and the labels of her ingredients. Now, she is working on using her eSight to help her get back into Sewing.

Sewing with eSight

Having been a life-long seamstress, Judy had to give up her passion for sewing as her condition progressed. She held on as long as she could, but eventually her vision had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer see her work.

“All my life I was a seamstress – I made my clothes, I made all my kids’ clothes. I was sewing all the time. We finally got to the point where I couldn’t do a lot of things because my eyesight was getting worse and sewing was difficult. In later years I had to give it up.”

With eSight, Judy has been able to start sewing again. She has been able to work on repair jobs, and was impressed with how well she could see even the darkest of fabrics, threads, and buttons. Working with her coach, Judy is now re-learning how to use her beloved sewing machine with her eSight.

“Working with it just gives me more practice and the easier it is. I’ve only had the eSight for a couple of months so I’m still learning.”

Hear more about how the eSight 4 helps Judy pursue her passion for sewing