KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Imagine one day you can see, and then soon everything goes dark for nearly two years. One Kansas City-area mom of three didn’t have to imagine that as it became her everyday reality.
Ashley Mizell, a photographer, had an eye for getting the good shots at weddings, parties, and more, but one day her vision that had been 20/20 for 27-plus years was disappearing.
“My doctor called me about seven o’clock that night and said, ‘Come to the ER, we have to try and save your vision,'” Mizell said.
The once bright-eyed mom who knew her way around the camera was facing a new challenge.
“I was a photographer in the Kansas City area. I was living my passion. I had perfect 2020 vision,” she said.
An obstacle was headed her way that would be the hardest she’d have to overcome.
“I noticed that every day I was waking up, and my vision was messing up more and more,” Mizell said.
Multiple eye appointments and several pairs of glasses later, the realization finally started to set in. Mizell’s vision would soon be gone.
“They said, ‘It looks like you have a disease. I don’t think we’re going to be able to fix this for you,’” she said.
She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis; one side effect is scar tissue that covers the eye in a matter of months.
“I can’t just grab my kid and say, ‘Hey, let’s go to the lake for the day.’ Everything changed for my kids,” she said.
For two years she was in the dark until she was introduced to the Orcam Myeye device.
Not only did it allow her to gain her freedom back, but simple tasks like checking the mail and going to the grocery store, too.
She was able to do beloved activities again, and even homeschooled her children for more than 17 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is giving me independence that I never knew was possible. When I first got sick, I thought my life was completely over,” said Mizell.
“What this device does really is level the playing field for people,” said Rafi Fischer, a spokesperson with Orcam Myeye.
The device is approved through the VA with veterans all across the United States, and they have have free access to it. But like Mizell, it’s available for anyone who might need it.