Elizabeth Goldring, a 61-year-old woman who gradually lost her eyesight to juvenile diabetes, has managed to urge scientists and device makers to create a "seeing machine" that will enable her and thousands like herself to see despite failing visual acuity.
The idea was born when Ms Goldring was examined with a scanning laser ophthalmoscope, when she was able to read a word for the first time in a few years. "For a poet, that's an incredible feeling," she said. "I said almost immediately, 'I need to get in touch with the man who invented this machine.' "
Now Goldring's desire was to see a mini-version of the machine. A team of M.I.T. students and the machine's inventor, Robert W. Webb, a researcher at Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital believed in her dream and have helped create a $4,000 machine called the "seeing machine.:
The machine "consists of a projector, computer, monitor, eyepiece and a joystick for zooming in and out. It uses light-emitting diodes instead of a laser." It was recently tested out on 10 people who had visual problems. "I can't think of a one of them that didn't respond very vividly and excitedly to the experience," Ms. Goldring said.
The machine was recently described in the journal Optometry. "It was too complicated, but I looked and looked," she said. "Then I went by myself. My sense of confidence was something entirely different. My dream is that these seeing machines will make it out of my laboratory and into the hands of people who could use them."