Linda Miller has had her life given back to her thanks to a small camera, microphone and battery pack.
Until recently Linda, who has Macular Degeneration leaving her with minimal sight, could not read anything.
She relied on her brother to read her mail, she could no longer drive and she had to carry a heavy reader around her neck which she jokes “nearly killed me it was so heavy”.
This resulted in her independence being severely curtailed.
That all changed when she tried the the OrCam MyEye, a new wearable reading device that sits discreetly on the side of her glasses.
The OrCam MyEye is designed to assist anyone who struggles to read, recognise faces or objects and helps users become more independent.
A small camera is mounted on the user’s eye frame converting visual information into the spoken word.
Linda said the second she heard about the OrCam MyEye she knew she wanted one.
“There was an advertisement on TV from a lady who lives in Forbes I think, and it came on while my brother was watching it and he told me about it,” she said.
“I got in contact with Vision Australia and they organised a meeting and I bought one, it’s not much only a switch and a battery pack and the camera on my glasses all I have to do is go up to something and point and it reads it out.
“I can look at your face and say your name and then every time I see you it will tell me who I am talking to,” she said.
Linda encouraged others with low vision to take the opportunity and use the OrCam MyEye.
“When you lose your vision, you get it in your head - you can’t do anything,” she said.
“You are put in a box and you are not allowed out. I’m lucky I live in a small town because they do look after me, but the MyEye just gives you that little bit more independence.
“I’d just like to see people take the opportunity and use the MyEye because life is so hard without vision.
“For what it costs, it’s not a lot. For giving me my life back, it is worth every cent to get the freedom I’m getting, and my brother is happy he doesn’t have to read all my mail anymore,” she said.
Tim Connell, the CEO of Quantum RLV, the distributor of OrCam in Australia, said it was important for people with low vision seek help early to maintain independence.
“Accessing the volume of information we are presented with each day is challenging for people with a print disability, due to their low vision,” he said.
“I have been working in this field for over 30 years and I have never seen a product make such an impact in such a short period of time.
“It is very exciting to be at the beginning of what is definitely a whole new era for accessing information. We have people from 16 right through to 95 years of age who have found that OrCam is simple to use, and that it really works, opening up their world of reading again,” he said.
Linda said she was looking forward to seeing what the future held.
“I’ve told them (the distributors) this already, but it does make life that much easier, it’s made me a happier person,” she said.
“You have that much taken away from you when you lose your vision. I was always a person who has done everything on their own but now I find I’ve got that back.
“If you don’t try, you don’t know if you can do it or not, like I play bowls, work at Vinnies one day a week, I’m going ten pin bowling next week.
“I go to museums now and I can read the little pieces of information next to displays which I couldn’t do before.
“I’ve not had one problem with it, they update it every year with more features so I’ll just go with the flow and see what they do and try everything out,” she said.