News Releases

February 17, 2000

New Vision-Enhancing System Offers Independence to Individuals with Low Vision

ATLANTA - Retired CPA Bernard Windham, 77, had to stop helping his family with their tax returns a couple of years ago when he became legally blind. Macular degeneration and a cataract in one eye have destroyed much of his vision. Now, thanks to a new vision-assisting device that he received at the Emory Eye Center's Low Vision Clinic, he's back in action, helping his family complete their returns this tax season.

"Mr. Windham has a 'Jordy,' one of our most exciting new digital viewing devices," says Dr. Ned Witkin, an optometrist and the director of the Low Vision Clinic. "Users can wear Jordy like a pair of ultra high-tech glasses or place the system on a viewing stand for reading on a closed-captioned television." This virtual reality system can magnify images up to 25 times for distance viewing and 50 times for close-up viewing. Portable (the battery lasts up to two hours on a charge) and light (it weighs only 9 ounces), Jordy is self-focusing and provides a clear color image. It can be worn anywhere to help visually impaired individuals read, write, sew, knit, play cards, work at a computer, or recognize faces. However, it is not designed for driving.

Mr. Windham uses his Jordy mostly on a reading stand to write checks, read bills, or complete tax returns. "I can now read the newspaper, something I haven't been able to do in two years," he says. "I can't tell you how much this system has helped me. It makes me feel useful and has put some new life in me!"

Mr. Windham has the dry form of macular degeneration, which is a disease of the retina that causes a gradual loss of vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 55 and is a growing health problem for the aging. There currently is no treatment and no way to restore vision loss. The Jordy is one of many devices available at Emory's Low Vision Clinic designed to help individuals with reduced vision that neither surgery, medical treatment nor the best standard optical remedies can correct. One of only a few clinical sites in the U.S. developing the most advanced vision-assisting devices available on the market, Emory's Low Vision Clinic has helped children with hereditary conditions, individuals who want to remain in the workplace, and older adults who want to maintain independent lives.

Mr. Windham lives in Suwanee, Ga. He and his wife, Lee, have two children and seven grandchildren.

Media Contact: Joy H. Bell

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