Quanek Collins is just finishing the fourth grade. At 10 years old, he loves basketball, playing chess, drawing, and watching TV. Life just got a little easier for Collins, who has a rare condition called Aniridia that results in severe vision loss.
Through an alliance between Optelec, a maker of vision assistive technology, and Sight Savers America, a nonprofit that provides vision care for economically disadvantaged children, Collins was given an Optelec MultiView, a desktop video magnifier that boosts text and object sizes for reading and distance viewing.
The Optelec MultiView is equipped with a camera and 19-inch widescreen display with up to 90 times video magnification. It’s designed for reading and writing, as well as hobbies like crafts, painting and drawing. Objects can be displayed with one of several backgrounds and text colors, either standard black on white, or white on black, yellow on black, or yellow on blue. It costs $2,395.
Collins, who lives with his Aunt along with his brother and sister near Chicago, would never be able to afford this device on his own. Optical aids such as these are not covered by health insurance, either.
A similar, handheld version, the Optelec Compact Mini, weighs under five ounces, has a 3.5 inch screen, and magnification up to 11 times normal size. It costs $395.
It is estimated that nearly 25 percent of school-age children have vision problems and many preschool and school-age children are not receiving proper professional eye and vision care. Optelec, through its VisionZone initiative, is working to unite industry organizations, nonprofits, low vision specialists and the visually impaired community to bring a greater awareness to eye care protection and vision loss prevention. Illinois-based nonprofit group Spectrios Institute for Low Vision helped identify Collins as the recipient of the video magnifier.