First-year nursing student Emma Van Dyk, who is legally blind, is one of five Canadian students awarded with a medical vision-assistive device from eSight, to help her see.

Van Dyk wants to bring awareness to sight loss, saying it’s not a disability, it's just a different ability.

Toronto based CNIB foundation partnered with eSight to create the scholarship that would provide five Canadian students and one American student with the device; Emma Van Dyk’s condition and compelling aspirations made her the perfect candidate.

“Just because you can’t see the stars, doesn’t mean you can’t reach for them,’ says Van Dyk.

When Van Dyk was six-years-old she was diagnosed with Kjer’s Optic Atrophy, it’s a progressive eye-condition where her optic nerve cannot send messages from the eye to the brain.

Van Dyk says simple tasks like reading labels or playing cards is very difficult with her diagnosis. Before the eSight device Van Dyke had to be two-inches from a textbook page in order to read it.

Now after having the device for a few weeks, Van Dyk sits ‘tall’ as she reads her nursing textbooks and is ‘beyond excited’ to bring the device into classrooms at Western University.

“I really wanted to do something (nursing) that could help people, something that could be life changing for people,” says Van Dyk.

“And now I am more confident than ever.”

Van Dyk describes the device as an enhancing pair of ‘glasses’ that zooms in wherever she looks.

“My sister was holding an Eye chart, and I was going down, further and smaller, and zooming in, and I was able to read something that someone with 20/20 vision could read,” says Van Dyk.

eSight is a company that has helped developed a clinically validated software device that is intended to serve the low-vision population.

`Brian McCollum, Chief Commercial Officer, eSight, says the Five Canadian students, including Emma, had to complete an essay with references explaining their visual condition and how they plan to use the medical device in order to be chosen.

“We really wanted to choose people (to be awarded the device) who would go out and try to make a difference in society,” says McCollum.

The five students were perfect candidates for the device based on their medical condition, as the device does not work on everyone.

Original founder and electrical engineer, Conrad Lewis, spent nearly 30 years developing a product that could help people living with visual impairments, including his two legally blind sisters.

That product has now evolved to eSight 4. The device has interchangeable batteries and is portable so users can take it to work or school with them.

McCollum says the medical device has improved immensely, and that users love how easy it is to use.

“It has a camera in the front of the device pulls in an image, runs it through algorithms, and essentially displays visual images on two screens in form of the users eyes,” says McCollum.

McCollum says the eSight glasses are taking an image, increasing the synaptic-activity in the eye; for those who have low vision its essentially filling in the visual gapes.

Van Dyk says that eSight makes a substantial difference in her life, and she looks forward to proving to the world that she is capable of anything.

“I just want to help people hopefully when I do become a nurse, whatever the current situation is I can help,” says Van Dyk.