Born legally blind and without irises, seven-year-old Landon Carter has never been able to see much past his nose.
As a big fan of the basketball team Utah Jazz, that’s a painful reality.
His favorite player is Gordon Hayward and whenever his father decides to watch a game on TV, Landon is the first one to join him – but he has to sit with his faces inches from the screen.
Going to see them play in the flesh has never been a worthwhile option – until now.
Hearing about his condition, the NBA squad gathered together to get little Landon a pair of groundbreaking new glasses that films everything in his line of vision up to 100 yards away, and live-streams it inches from his eyes.
Finally, on April 21, he sat court side for a practice then took his seats to see the Jazz play the LA Clippers, narrowly losing 106-111.
Landon was born with aniridia, an eye disorder characterized by a complete or partial absence of the iris.
These iris abnormalities may cause the pupils to be abnormal or misshapen. Aniridia can cause reduction in the sharpness of vision and increased sensitivity to light.
The condition also means that Landon is legally blind.
‘Everything he sees is perpetually blurry,’ Jeff, his father, told KUTV.
‘His whole world needs to be right in front of his face instead of really being able to live the whole world.’
When the Utah Jazz heard about Landon’s story, they decided to make sure he’d be able to see all future games with crystal clear vision.
‘In Utah there are about 50,000 plus people who are listed as legally visually impaired,’ Josh Barney, Director of Technology and Innovation at the Vivint Smart Home Arena (where the team plays) told KUTV.
‘It makes it something that they may have never experienced before, that they now have an opportunity to do that.’
Vivint and the Jazz are using a new technology – a device called eSight.
eSight is worn like glasses, and has a high-speed HD camera and two LED displays in front of the user’s eyes.
The camera and displays allow video to be filmed and processed in real-time, enhancing both contrast and quality.
And maximizing peripheral vision is also important to make sure users did not feel ill or lose balance as is often the case with virtual reality headsets.
The device can also auto-focus, allowing users to transition between objects nearby and far away.
At a playoff game between the Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, Landon was invited to watch the players practice.
Fitted with a new pair of his glasses, he expressed excitement at his newfound clarity
‘Yeah I can see that!’ he announced to his dad.
He is able to read signs 100 yards away, and, for the first time, see the ball go into the basket.
For Landon’s father, the outcome of the game doesn’t matter, but rather that his son gets to see it happen.
‘It’s something, I’m getting choked up now,’ Jeff said.
‘He hasn’t had that experience.’
WHAT IS ANIRIDIA?
Aniridia is a genetic eye disorder where the iris (colored ring structure of the eye that forms the pupil) is malformed.
In some cases, other structures of the eye are also poorly developed. The word aniridia implies that there is ‘no iris’ but, in fact, there is a small ring of iris tissue present that is variable in size.
Because the iris tissue is so small, the pupil is very large and may be irregularly shaped
In the general population, aniridia occurs in one per 50,000 to 100,000 people.
Aniridia occurs while the eye is developing during the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy due a chromosomal mutation.
Inheritance of aniridia can be familial (approximately two-thirds of cases) or sporadic (approximately one-third of cases).
Patients can range between having very good vision (20/30 or better) to very poor vision (worse than 20/200), and most patients are somewhere in between.
An ophthalmologist will assess vision, perform an examination, and prescribe glasses if necessary.
If no prescription is needed, patients often still benefit from wearing filter lenses or sunglasses to help with glare and sensitivity to light (common symptoms associated with the large pupils and corneal changes).
Source: American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus