Blind Father and Veteran, Larry Kupner, has Ambitious Plans with eSight

Serving in the Navy

Larry Kupner, blind father and veteran

Larry Kupner is a blind father and veteran.

He served as a SeaBee from December 1968 to November 1972. During his military service, he noticed that he was already beginning to lose his night vision. In 1976, four years after his service had ended, he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Fourteen years later, he was diagnosed as legally blind.

Life After the Navy

At the time, Larry was working as a building contractor. No longer able to do his job with low vision, he was forced to change career paths. He began training to be a computer tech, even though he had never touched one. By 1992, he was upgrading computers and refurbishing old ones, and by 1995, both Larry and his wife were building custom computer systems from scratch.

Naturalistic hike scene.

Even though he was able to find success in his new career, his vision loss meant that he had to stop doing many of the things he loved before. It became extremely difficult for him to continue his passions of cooking, fishing, hunting, and hiking.

“I have always enjoyed the great outdoors and all that nature has to offer us.”

Shortly after being diagnosed with legal blindness in 1990, the state took his driving license, and consequently much of his independence as well.

Further Vision Loss and Struggles

Larry’s vision loss continued to deteriorate. He had to give up working on the computers, and he found it more and more difficult to do everyday tasks, such as cooking or walking outdoors by himself.  As of today, he explains that, “I am totally blind in my left eye, and I have a small portal that I see through in the lower-center area in my right eye. I have lost all of my peripheral vision. About four weeks ago, I still had some left-center vision left but I have lost that now too. Right now, all I can see is light and some movement.”

Larry is a survivor of two head-on collisions, and now lives with chronic back and neck pain which left him with an addiction to opioids. He has a quiet proudness when he reveals that he conquered his addiction 27 months ago.

“I am finally getting my life back as of about nine months ago, and right now I’ve got a new reason for living: my eSight glasses.”

Discovering eSight

Lions Club hosted eSight evaluations, Larry is pictured seated second from the left.

Larry found out about eSight through the Lions Club in his area in North Carolina (he is pictured seated, second from the left). In fact, Dr. Mary Sedgewick was the one who conducted his evaluation in March 2020.

“I had my annual eye exam last November, and the only thing I could make out was the big ‘E’ on the top of the eye chart, and even that was very distorted. When Mary introduced me to the glasses, with guarded emotions I continued to go down reading the chart. When I was able to clearly read the bottom line of the eye chart, it just blew me away.”

Larry was reading at 20/40 visual acuity.

Larry fondly remembers this day as when he was able to see his wife and son in detail, for the first time in 10 years. He was surprised when he saw his son, as he was 14 years old when Larry’s vision began to worsen, and he is now 24 years old. “I was hardly believing what I was seeing. I could see the walls and decor in the building that I had been in many times and had never seen before.” Larry jokes that, “If I could’ve walked out of the room with those glasses, I sure would have.”

Fundraising

Instead, he went home and through eSight’s crowdsourcing program eMPOWER, Larry started a donation page for himself to receive eSight. As the word got out online, Larry tipped the donations over the edge as he personally began contacting people on the phone to tell them about his incredible experience with eSight.

He was able to receive his eSight the beginning on June 2020.

Living Life to the Fullest with eSight

Larry is ecstatic when he talks about how his life has changed with eSight. 

“With the aid of eSight glasses, I am a more productive and independent person. I’m excited by the prospect of seeing my family, my friends, and being able to enjoy landscapes and the great outdoors again.”

He even noticed a marked improvement in his natural vision when he was doing his first training session with an eSight coach, as he raised his eSight visor and was able to naturally see with greater clarity than before.

Plans for Father’s Day

Fishing

With his new and improved vision, Larry is finally able to participate in one of his favourite activities this Father’s Day: fishing! Their son is helping to arrange the event.

Larry and his wife have two kids to celebrate Father’s Day with, who both live with disabilities.

His son has IDD, and his daughter was born deaf. Larry smiles as he recounts that, “My daughter was really excited about my eSight as she does a lot of painting and artwork and she said, ‘now you’ll be able to see it!’”

Future Goals with eSight

Larry laughs when he explains that he told his eSight coach during their last training session that, “I want to get my proficiency level with eSight to the point where I could take your job!” 

Larry and his wife have always been big on helping others, they have already identified 8 other individuals who could benefit from eSight. They are now working to try and get evaluations for them done through the Lions Clubs, and reaching out to eSight representatives to help get the process started for them.

Did you enjoy reading about Larry’s story as a blind father and veteran who discovered eSight? Read more here about Jason Smetters, a blind baseball fan who uses eSight to help him enjoy stadium games again.

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