PRESTONSBURG – Eyesight is often taken for granted. Being able to see the faces of friends and families, watch a favorite sports team play in the big game or seeing the expression on the preachers face when he is excited about the message of his sermon are all talent for granted. Christopher Blake Fannin is the young friendly face you see when you walk into Prestonsburg Walmart. He is the son of Sonya Roberts and Chris Fannin. Blake, as his mom calls him, has been legally blind since birth. However, thanks to a new exciting technology, Blake may someday get the one thing he prays about on a daily basis – sight.
Blake has been legally blind since birth because of a diagnosis called optic nerve hypoplasia, which basically means he normally has no vision because his optic nerve is underdeveloped. He has also undergone two brain surgeries. With circumstances stacked against him, instead of looking at the negative aspects of his life, he and his mother choose to be strong and rely on their Christian beliefs. Blake prays daily that God will restore his eyesight.
Blake graduated from Prestonsburg High School in 2015. He is the oldest of three boys. He loves attending church with his grandparents, Ernest and Lynn Fannin. He attends both Spurlock and Fitzpatrick churches. Blake works 12 hours a week as a door greeter and the remainder of his time he spends listening to his audio bible and praying. His mother saw a story on CBS about new technology a few weeks ago. At the time, the busy mom was not only caring for three active boys, she was also working two jobs. She works at Pig in A Poke and Trans-Star Ambulance and also attends college.
The new technology is called eSight. What is eSight? It is the only patented, assistive device of its kind. It is wearable, hands-free, eye glasses that are basically a real-time edit of what the wearer of the device is seeing. On average, eSight restores sight for three out of every four people with low vision.
The headset houses a small, high-speed camera that captures everything the eSight user is looking at. The captured live video stream is instantly sent to a powerful computer that uses proprietary software to process each pixel of video captured by the camera.
The video is sent back to the headset and displayed on two, powerful screens in front of the user’s eyes.
While studying one night, a pop-up ad for eSight got the hardworking mother’s attention once again. The next day she contacted the company, which is located in Canada. The company discouraged the young mother from coming for the demonstration based on Blake’s vision of 20/1500. She convinced the company to allow her to bring Blake to Indiana for a demonstration. During the demonstration, Blake could see letters from across the room. Without the glasses, he struggles to tell if his moms eyes are open or closed.
The device has already proven to be beneficial for Blake. The technology will allow him to become more independent, confident and live a more productive life. Although this is something the young boy needs to live a happy and independent life, medical insurance does not cover the cost of the device of $15,000. His mom has set up a GoFundMe account at Esights4Blake. To date, the account has amassed $1,845 thanks to many donations from friends and family, including a generous $1,000 donation from the Spurlock church.
Another fundraiser scheduled for Blake will be at Foxy Fitness located at 188 Collins Circle Drive in Prestonsburg on August 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The family is asking any nonprofit organization who be willing to sponsor an event for Blake or anyone wishing to make a donation to call Sonya Roberts at 339-8328.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.