A young man living in regional Victoria has found an assistive device that has dramatically improved his quality of life — all thanks to his passion for watching football.
- A device called IrisVision is helping one vision impaired man see more details
- It uses a regular VR gaming headset which holds a smartphone with software to magnify what the wearer sees
- Lachlan Davidson started using the technology so he could watch his favourite football team
Lachlan Davidson, who lives in Wodonga, has a rare genetic condition called ocular albinism that primarily affects the eyes.
The lack of pigmentation in his eyes impairs his vision to the extent that he is considered legally blind.
"I'm long sighted with poor peripheral vision," he said.
"It's in the genes. My mum passed it on to me and her sister passed it on to her sons as well. My uncle also has it."
Mr Davidson recently discovered the device, called IrisVision, while looking for a pair of binoculars to watch football matches.
He initially intended to use the device to watch his beloved team, the Western Bulldogs play live — a dream that has since been thwarted by coronavirus restrictions.
"Unfortunately I haven't been able to use it at the football yet. It's very difficult being in Victoria and watching Perth Stadiums fill out," he said.
"However, I've been watching the footy at home. Come on the Western Bulldogs!"
The IrisVision device consists of a regular VR gaming headset that holds a smartphone with software to magnify what the wearer sees.
It can automatically focus on what the wearer is looking at and there is a control panel to zoom in and out.
Mr Davidson believes it is a real step up from other options such as handheld magnifiers, which have a narrow field of view and cause the users' arms to grow tired if held for too long.
"Last year I was going to the football a lot and I was using my binoculars at the time, but they weren't quite as easy to use as I had hoped so I decided to try something else," he said.
"Now, when using the new device to watch TV, I can see so much more detail, the scores, all the facial expressions."
Mr Davidson also uses the device at TAFE, where he is studying a Diploma of Community Service.
It allows him to see the blackboard and Powerpoint slides and means he can sit anywhere in the classroom.
Since the age of five he has always had to sit very close to the board to see anything.
He also uses the device for hobbies like reading and gaming.
Tony Wu is an orthoptist and product advisor at Vision Australia, which distributes IrisVision in Australia.
Mr Wu came across the device two years ago and was struck by its clear benefits, including the fact that it is hands-free and allows the wearer to easily perform tasks.
"It allows you to be more independent," he said.
"It allows individuals to perform tasks and hobbies they normally would not be able to such as reading, completing documents, manual tasks like food preparation, or in Lachlan's case watching his favourite footy team play."