Community support enables legally blind Kingsport woman to buy eSight glasses

Holly Viers • Mar 21, 2019 at 12:54 PM

KINGSPORT — When the Times News first spoke with Kristie Jones last summer, she was seeking donations for a pair of eSight magnification glasses, which help legally blind individuals — like herself — see.

Thanks to community support, Jones was finally able to purchase the $10,000 glasses earlier this year. The glasses magnify her vision up to 24 times, allowing her to perform many day-to-day activities she wasn’t able to before.

“I actually got them the middle of January … after finding out about them, going and trying them on in Nashville and actually starting the fundraiser, because I knew I couldn’t come up with $10,000,” Jones said. “I had to do a fundraiser of some sort.”

Addressing the need

To be considered legally blind, a person’s visual acuity must be 20/200 or less in the better eye while wearing corrective lenses, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. Jones’s vision problems stem from a disorder called pseudotumor cerebri, which causes high pressure in the brain that creates symptoms similar to a brain tumor.

Before getting her eSight glasses, Jones couldn’t perform everyday tasks like reading medicine bottles or signing checks on her own. But with the glasses, she can perform almost any task, other than driving.

“I know I’ll still never be able to drive again because my reflexes are not as good as they want them to be for driving,” Jones said. “But in the information online about the glasses, it actually tells you that you can go back to living a regular life.”

Raising the money

Jones said getting the glasses wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s support. She raised money for several months on a GoFundMe page and on the eSight website, where she received most of her donations.

She also received donations from Times News readers. Within a day of the first article publishing last July, Jones had raised $200 in online donations.

Jones also credits friends, local churches and the Lion’s Club for helping her reach her goal.

“They are very much appreciated,” Jones said. “They do help me in a very big way get back to doing everyday things that I wasn’t able to do in the past 11 years since becoming legally blind. Really without their help, I wouldn’t be able to have them.”

Increasing awareness

Jones hopes the community will become more aware of eSight glasses and how they work. Since getting the glasses, Jones said many people have stopped her in public to ask what the glasses do, as most people have never seen them before.

“I always tell people, ‘If you see me out with these glasses, don’t hesitate to come up and ask me (about them),’ ” Jones said. “I actually want people to say, ‘Hey, what is that you’re wearing?’ ”