'Sight Savers' donates visual-aid technology to seven local children

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Several local children received a life changing gift Thursday afternoon, the ability to see clearly.

A national non-profit called 'Sight Savers' has its eyes on helping those with visual imparities using vision-aid technology called the Onyx Electronic Video Magnifiers.

Sight Savers Senior Case Specialist, Matt Daw, explained that the EVMs use a camera to give those with visual impairments the ability to see things that they might not have ever seen before.

"Gives them the opportunity to be able to see things that a normal-sighted person is able to see that they may not be able to see. It's the little things like a coin, or something outside like a bird or a squirrel."

Using this technology, some children can even see themselves or their loved ones for the very first time 

But EVMs are very expensive and are not covered through any medical insurances.

Sight Savers Grants Manager, Sarah Jennings, said through a local donation from the St. Joe Community Foundation,  Sight Savers gave seven children from both Bay and Walton counties the machines for free. 

"We saw this need and we started to fill it, and we've seen just how life-changing it can be for every person we encounter," she said.

Sight Savers staff sat with the children and their families to teach them how to use the product.

"We wrote words and we wrote our name," one recipient, Bailey Dickerson, said.

Daw explained that they pack up the machines for the families to bring home to use for daily tasks.

"Once they get it home they're able to look over their school work with it, help them with their academics, as well as reading, writing, looking at math problems," he said.

Sight Savers is also providing extensive follow-up eye care and will monitor the child's progress with the equipment until he or she reaches 19-years-old.

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