Esight for retinopathy?

Has anyone with vision loss from diabetic retinopathy had any experience with esight glasses? If so, do they help you see?

I’m legally blind from retinopathy of prematurity, so in my case a different cause and it’s been from birth, essentially. I have used eSight briefly, and I also own a Jordy, which is a very similar device (I own a slightly older generation product than the one in the link).

These devices do definitely help improve the detail that I can see. Without any low vision aids my vision is in the 20/500 range. I tested my vision once while wearing the Jordy (which has more magnification capability than the eSight) and when I was at maximum zoom I was able to read to 20/50, I believe. So definitely a massive improvement.

The downside to all of these devices is that when you are that zoomed in, your visual field is greatly reduced. I have used my Jordy in various environments such as university classes, while taking an ASL course, to watch plays, to read sheet music, to observe students, to conduct reading assessments, and so on. And, while doing all of these I constantly had to manage the balance between being zoomed in enough that I could see what I needed to see while not being zoomed in so much that my visual field was too small to fully understand what I was seeing. When I explain it to people, I basically explain that I am legally blind either way. If I’m zoomed out then I have very poor visual acuity but an okay visual field; when I’m zoomed in I have a better visual acuity but a very poor visual field.

In addition to these trade-offs, I also have to manage contrast and focus while using the device (the device is autofocus, as is the eSight, but anyone who has used an autofocus camera knows it still needs management!), as well as battery life or AC power, depending on how long I needed to use it. These devices all have straps that go around the back of your head and are significantly heavier than eyeglasses, and they also all have a cable running down to a large battery and control box, which is how you control things like zoom level and contrast. The longest I used it continuously was for two to three hours, and and by the end of that time I’d usually have a massive headache. In addition, you cannot walk around while wearing these types of devices, so they aren’t of any help in doing things like reading addresses or signs.

When I tried the eSight, my main complaints about it were that the image blurs when the device is zoomed in to high levels (which I require), that the image often appears grainy and “over-processed” (though this has gotten better with the newest eSight), and that the image is just not very high-quality even in comparison to my 15-year-old Jordy.

In short, the eSight is a piece of assistive technology (not really a pair of “glasses” as they and other companies advertise) that can be very useful in certain circumstances, but also has real tangible limitations. In addition, the eSight is exhorbinantly expensive in comparison to other wearable low vision devices. If you are considering this device and think it would still be helpful even after trying it and keeping in mind the above limitations, I would take a look at other devices within this category (such as the Jordy, and there are several others) before making a final decision.