CINCINNATI -- Seventeen-year-old Primo Averion, who became legally blind early in his childhood, watched Fourth of July fireworks for the first time Wednesday night with the help of a groundbreaking pair of high-tech glasses.
"It's awesome," he said, grinning. "It's breathtaking. I've never seen anything like it."
Averion lost his vision to Stargadt disease, a congenital illness that causes slow degradation of the retina and robs the eye of its ability to clearly percieve images directly in front of it. People who have it, such as Averion, retain their peripheral vision but lose the primary vision upon which most humans depend.
His friends and family raised $10,000 to help him get it back via a pair of eSight glasses. The glasses look a little like the visor LeVar Burton once sported on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and they do about the same thing: Compensate for weaknesses in the wearer's natural eyesight, providing machine-supplemented focus, magnification and clarity.
"He deserves it," his mother, Lisa Averion, said. "He's a wonderful, responsible young man and I'm just happy for him. I think everyone deserves the gift of seeing, the gift of sight."
Being able to see clearly for the first time in years means more than enjoying one day of fireworks. It also means Primo Averion can read the books his friends recommend, complete homework on his own and -- perhaps most importantly -- see his loved ones' faces clearly.
When he initially put the glasses on, he said, the first thing his doctor told him to look at was his family.
"I got to see my mom's face for the first time in kind of a while," he said. "It was really just like, wow. It's all right in front of you."
His parents hope the new technology will expand their son's horizons and possibilities for the future.
"As a parent, you always worry about, ‘Can my children survive in the world?'" his father, Dave Averion, said. "There isn't anything that can stop him because he can see with the e-sight glasses."