9-Year-Old Legally Blind Girl Watches The Nutcracker For First Time With Special Glasses
A nine-year-old legally blind girl who dreams of being a ballerina was able to watch The Nutcracker live for the first time after being gifted with special glasses.
Lily Lueders, from Austin, Texas, was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia when she was just three months old, with the condition causing blindness in her right eye and limited vision (20/800) in her left.
The nine-year-old also struggles with nystagmas, an involuntary shaking of the eyes, and has problems with depth perception which means she can only really see up to 3ft away – making the ballet performance even more special.
You can find out more about Lily’s story below:
Lily and other visually impaired people were invited to view a live performance of The Nutcracker called the Unseen Ballet – sponsored by Dell Technologies and its partners, eSight and Ballet Austin – at The Long Center in Austin on December 5.
With the help of advanced assistive eyewear technology eSight, which uses a cutting-edge camera, smart algorithms and high-resolution screens to create a clear, real-time image of what is in front of the user, Lily was able to watch the classic ballet for the first time.
Lily’s mum, Kimmy, said the young girl has always been a fan of ballerinas and so was ‘absolutely delighted’ by the ballet. ‘She is not one to sit still, but there was a calmness and easy stillness to her during the performance,’ she told PEOPLE.
[It] was the most impactful thing she has experienced with the eSight [glasses]… She absolutely loved seeing the details on the edges of the stage and the change of each set. I think the snow scene was her favourite. The giant beautiful snowflakes and falling snow. It was magic!
Kimmy and husband Dustin Lueders first noticed Lily’s eye crossing and a lack of object tracking when she was a baby, after which she was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. Lily’s mum says her daughter has learned to navigate the world as she sees it, explaining how she has ‘always done better than we could have imagined’.
Kimmy said the young girl was ‘awestruck’ when she first wore the eyewear technology and says her first fitting enabled her to read letters off a vision chart across the room for the very first time.
The first couple tries at home, she would have these moments where words would fail and she would just let out this excited giggle. It really is the sweetest thing for a mother to experience her child experiencing the world like never before.
The nine-year-old currently attends occupational and speech therapy four times a week to promote self-awareness, while her parents provide sensory activities and tools to help with cognitive focus.
However, the cost of four therapy sessions a week is taking its toll on the young family, who often find themselves struggling to pay bills and provide support for Lily and her younger brother, James. Because of this, they have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the $21,000 a year costs.
The family describe the therapies as ‘crucial’ in maintaining Lily’s quality of life and preparing her for future successes and say they would be ‘so grateful’ for any donations anyone can make.
You can donate to their cause here.
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