Do not be surprised if, in the near future, you start seeing people walking around with eyewear that looks remarkably like Star Trek’s Geordie Laforge’s Visor. A company called eSight has developed a device that, in many ways, act just like a visor for low vision people.

Many people who are legally blind do have limited vision, just not enough to function as well as sighted people. They can’t drive on their own and find reading difficult. Just getting around or finding work can be a problem for people with low vision.

The eSight visor weighs a quarter of a pound and fits on a person’s head like a pair of eyeglasses.

Cameras pick up images and then project them into the eye using high contrast and magnification to allow the user to see clearer. A handheld device permits the user to zoom into objects, such as a street sign, or pan and area in front of them. In a way, the device allows low vision people to see better than sighted people in certain circumstances. The device is powered by a battery that lasts for six and a half hours. The eSight replaces hand held devices that some low vision people use to get around and function.

However, the device costs $10,000 currently. The FDA has approved the eSight visor as a medical device, but most insurance does not pay for it – yet. 1.3 million legally blind people live in the United States of which 100,000 could benefit from the eSight device.

That is 100,000 people who could become more productive members of society and who quality of life could be enhanced beyond evaluation.

History suggests that the cost of the device will likely decline as the technology is refined and more people are able adopt it. At some point the eSight visor will become less costly than the myriad of other hand held devices that people with low vision are obliged to use, at which time insurance and government agencies will start covering the costs.

Once again, as with the mobile phone, Star Trek has proven to be prophetic where it comes to technology, for the betterment of humankind.