A father-of-four who has been blind for almost 30 years is finally able to read a book, due to his revolutionary glasses.
Marc Bilton, 48, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was diagnosed with a little-known eye condition when he was just 19.
The disorder forced him to give up his job as a microbiologist and left him unable to play football with his sons.
Mr Bilton’s life has been transformed due to a pioneering pair of high-tech glasses that his wife, Ruth, saw advertised on Facebook two years ago.
His condition, known as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), affects around one in 4,000 people globally.
Mr Bilton, who was born partially deaf, wore conventional glasses and learnt to lip-read as a child, but was devastated and almost dropped out of university when he was diagnosed with RP.
He completed his degree but was forced to retrain and eventually retire as his deteriorating ability to identify colours, faces and even read large font text forced him to retire once again in 2008.
Yet, a chance Facebook post advertising Orcam’s artifical vision glasses revolutionised Mr Bilton’s life.
He said: ‘At first we were a bit dubious because it was almost too good to be believable and you have to be careful with what you find on Facebook.
The glasses, known as OrCam MyEye, recognise faces and ‘read’ for the user.
The glasses have a tiny camera that is attached to a computer that sits in the users’ pocket. A small speaker next to the ear also ‘talks’ to them.
It is programmed to recognise faces that are input into its memory, as well as reading aloud when the user points their finger at text.
Although relatively expensive, Mr Bilton is pleased in the investment he made.
Mr Bilton said: ‘Immediately I was able to read things that I couldn’t read before – I can read a paper now.
‘It’s the facial recognition that had a massive impact.
‘I struggle to see colours and definition and cannot see faces.
He said: ‘It is just liberating that I don’t need to wait for people to say or work out from the conversation I’m having who I’m talking to.’
‘It’s given back an interest in reading and finding out information and a bit of independence.
‘It has also given me dignity – when I’m talking to people that I’ve already met I’m not asking them who they are.’
He said: ‘The glasses were £1,800 ($2,324), which is quite expensive but I believe it is money well spent.
‘There is nothing else out there like this, I am now able to read letters, books and newspapers without having to ask someone to help me.
‘It has not made me totally independent but it has allowed me to do some of the things I could not do before, and it has helped me a lot.’
Mr Bilton hopes the technology will be updated to recognise people on his social media accounts.
He said: ‘If they could plug the device into social media and have it upload my contacts it would make it so much easier.’