Blind man uses virtual reality headset to see, care for his wife battling ALS


GREENWOOD, Ind. — A man who began losing his eyesight eight years ago is now seeing his family through high tech advancements and virtual reality technology. It comes as his wife battles ALS.

“First time I noticed it was going, I couldn’t see a picture of my daughter on the wall, my family’s faces, my wife’s smile,” lists Christopher Blake, “It’s being able to sit at a dinner table, and look at them directly.”

Blake suffers from ocular histoplasmosis. It’s a fungus that he is told is common to central Indiana.

“If you get it just in your blood stream you can be treated with anti-fungals, and get it taken care of. On rare occasion, it does make it to the eyes,” explains Blake, “At that point no anti-fungal will touch it in the eye.”

Blake is now legally blind and can only make out images that are right in front of his face. Chris’s wife Vanessa was taking care of him before she was diagnosed with ALS. Back in high school, she was a student athlete at Center Grove.

“She held two records at Center Grove for shot put and would bench press 200 lbs. in the weight room against the boys,” fondly smiles Blake, “Now she’s in a chair. She can barely lift her arm. Her disease has taken almost everything from her except who she is. My wife, being the wonderful woman she is, was already a medical assistant, and had found that there were classes to help those that are visually impaired. She was just ready to start her classes when she was diagnosed,” continues Blake, “She brought to my attention a device called IrisVision.”

It’s a virtual reality headset that utilizes a Samsung cell phone and cameras to project what he sees. It can zoom images closer to his eyes. It allows him to read her prescriptions and take care of her needs. He can also look after their 9-year-old daughter.

“IrisVision helps someone who is legally blind by using the parts of their vision, and giving them enough enhancement improvement that they are able to see the full picture,” explains IrisVision Founder and CEO Ammad Khan, “We are recapping everything on the digital screen, and it’s close enough to his eyes. The digital enhancement will bring things to them that are further away much closer.”

Before acquiring the device, Chris couldn’t see Vanessa’s face from across the room.

“Feeling my wife’s face, feeling my daughter’s face, not being able to see with my eyes anymore,” adds Blake.

Christopher Blake says he hopes his story inspires others to seek out new technology to improve their sight. IrisVision is generally not covered by insurance, but for military veterans, Khan says the United States government will pay for it.

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