New eyewear technology offers hope for visually impaired

For some people living with visual impairment, new technology promises to help them see better than ever before.

Seventeen-year-old Justin Crilly is one of those benefiting from eSight -- new goggles with a camera inside that can zoom up to 14 times the magnification of normal vision.

When he wears them, he said, for the first time in his life he feels like most other kids.

"I'm able to do a lot more things on my own," he told CBS News.

When he was just three months old, he suffered a brain injury and his parents were told his vision would never be the same again.

"I worried about what happens when he leaves home," his mother Stacy Crilly said. "What happens when he goes to college? Is he able to go to college and work independently? Now I don't have to worry."

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Justin Crilly wearing his eSight goggles.
CBS News

With the help of eSight -- which users can adjust for brightness, contrast, and color -- Justin can now do everyday tasks like help his mom in the kitchen and walk his dog. He can clearly see street signs and people's faces and expressions.

Optometrist Bill Takeshita, who lost his own vision five years ago, says this technology is a game changer.

"It's going to help so many people with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other kinds of vision problems," he said.

But the digital goggles come with a hefty price tag. A pair currently costs $15,000, and they are not covered by insurance, although the company says it has services to help users afford them.

Stacy Crilly says the first time she watched her son see clearly again, she knew it was worth it. "It was a pretty amazing moment," she said.