Fund drive begins for electronic eyeglasses for local priest
By Gene Kemmeter
Special to The Gazette
STEVENS POINT — An effort is underway to purchase electronic eyeglasses for a legally-blind Catholic priest in Stevens Point to enable him to improve his vision.
Council 1170 of the Knights of Columbus in Stevens Point is working to raise $10,000 to purchase the electronic eyeglasses for the Rev. Todd Mlsna, chaplain of the Council and the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, and associate pastor for the parishes of St. Casimir, St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Stephen and Holy Spirit.
“It was amazing,” Father Todd said after going to a demonstration of the eyeglasses in Brookfield. “I couldn’t believe I could see with them. I could see out the window.”
Father Todd said he has had bad eyesight all of his life and reads from books or papers with large-size print during Mass and other church services, often holding the paper close to his nose in order to make out the print.
A member of the Knights of Columbus Council 1170 saw a notice about the demonstration and made an appointment for Father Todd, which another member drove him to.
“I came to this experience with a skeptical opinion,” Father Todd said, “But I left in gratitude to God and the team at eSight. I saw things I had never seen before. Things came to my view I had never seen before. First, I was able to see the eye color of my driver. Second, I was able to see a JC Penney sign from a hundred yards away with the help of the glasses.
“Finally, and my favorite, was being able to read the first five numbers on the 20/20 line of the eye chart. What a miracle,” he said.
Father Todd recalled the gospel of St. Mark when Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted Jesus to do for him, with the blind man responding that he wanted to see. “If I were to be asked this same question by our Lord, I would say the same thing. Well, God might have just answered my prayer with the gift of electronic glasses from eSight eyewear. I would never have thought this would be possible.”
The eyeglasses don’t work for everyone, Father Todd said, and the testing and demonstration go through each individual’s visual acuity and other criteria to determine if the eyeglasses will help.
The glasses look similar to a pair of virtual reality glasses and are worn like a normal pair of glasses. The company said eSight “houses a high-speed, high-definition camera that captures everything you are looking at, and then displays it on two near-to-eye displays. Advanced, medically-validated algorithms optimize and enhance the footage so that your eyes can truly see it, and in real-time.”
The glasses also allow the user to zoom in on objects, take photos for later viewing, plus the ability to tilt up and down to allow the user to always have access to their own peripheral vision, enabling true mobility.
Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to the purchase of the glasses are asked to send their contribution to: Knights of Columbus Council 1170 Charity Fund, 401 W. Clark St., Stevens Point, WI 54481, and list “Father Todd” in the memo space on the check. The Council asks that checks not be made directly to Father Todd so the donations do not become taxable income to him.
Any funds raised beyond the amount needed for Father Todd will be disbursed to help others afford the technology.