Special Glasses Help Colorblind Dad See His Children Clearly for the 1st Time

Opie Hughes wore special glasses to correct his colorblindness.

May 14, 2015, 1:59 PM
PHOTO: A page from the EnChroma website shows their Cx Apollo glasses which they claim will help enhance the color perception of many people who suffer from color blindness.
A page from the EnChroma website shows their Cx Apollo glasses which they claim will help enhance the color perception of many people who suffer from color blindness.

— -- A Pennsylvania man teared up after getting a special pair of glasses that helped him see his children clearly for the first time.

Opie Hughes, who has red and green colorblindness, was given a special pair of EnChroma glasses by his family, including his sister Katherine Empey. The Erie family had banded together to start an online fundraiser to buy the $350 pair of glasses for Hughes.

Empey said fundraising finished just an hour before the deadline and the family had the glasses rush-delivered.

"We got them second-day aired and went over to his house for diner, we brought all these colorful things," Empey said.

She then filmed his reaction as a way to thank all the donors who chipped in for the glasses. Empey said Hughes put them on and almost immediately teared up as he looked around and then down at his two children.

"It was heartbreaking for me," Empey said. "You would think it’s a happy moment, I got sad ... finally realizing that he has missed out on seeing his kids' eyes and seeing colors."

Empey said she encouraged her brother to look at his children's eyes with the glasses on. "They’re ice blue. I don’t know if he" had seen that clearly before, she said.

In the video, Hughes called told his children to look at him so he could clearly see their eye color.

The EnChroma glasses are designed to be worn outdoors and the glass is created to block out a specific spectrum of light so that cones in the eye that read red and green light have less overlap. The product is not called a "cure" for colorblindness but, specifically, an optical assistive device and the company says some people with severe colorblindness will not be helped.

Dr. Thomas Stokkermans, a director of Optometric and Contact Lens Services at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said the glasses can work because most people do not have true colorblindness, but instead a color deficiency. Stokkermans said the glasses can allow in certain wavelengths of light to give the appearance of more vibrant or clear colors.

"It’s not giving you back function of the receptor, it's letting through wavelengths [of light] that enhance the functional receptors," he said.

Stokkermans stressed that this is no cure for colorblindness or color deficiency but can help some people see certain colors better.

Empey said when she tried them on, everything looked brighter and sharper but that she didn’t see any more colors.

"I compare it to a regular lawn [that ] looks like a golf course lawn," she said, explaining the green is brighter and the lines sharper.

After a few tears when Hughes opened his present, Empey said she’s now relieved that she helped her brother get the glasses.

"I was immediately like, 'He can see it now,'" she said of the colors. "He’s my best friend, we do everything together. ... It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders."

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