—Local man hopes community support will turn his son’s dream of sight into reality

Ben Roberts of Park Layne traveled to Florida on Thursday, June 21, to watch his son truly see for the first time.

His son, Nicholas Roberts, who lives in Boca Raton, is 20 years-old, and has been essentially blind since birth, due to an underdeveloped optic nerve condition called Optic Nerve Hyperplasia. He has 20/400 vision in one eye, and 20/600 in the other.

On Thursday, Nicholas saw with 20/20 vision as he attended a private demonstration from eSight, the developers of an illustrious new product that allows its user to see with virtually perfect vision.

eSight’s concept is relatively simple—the wearer puts on a pair of high-tech glasses, which magnify the objects in front of them, and then display the image on a screen inside the glasses.

Speaking to Nicholas Friday evening, he said it is not possible to put in words the rush of emotion he felt when he first turned on the glasses.

“I honestly don’t know if I can put it in words, but I’ll do my best though,” Nicholas said when asked to convey his first reaction. “All I can say is that it’s an incredible thing to see,” he said, recalling the vivid details that instantly became available to him.

“I can’t see detail at all, but when I put those things on, I could see detail—I could see my mom’s earrings, and I can never see what she’s wearing at all.”

Looking outside over the balcony at the demonstration site, the glasses allowed Nicholas to distinguish individual leaves on palm trees roughly 60 feet away.

“It’s more beautiful than I thought it would be,” he said of the world.

By using a small handheld control, Nicholas can zoom in and out on the image displayed in the glasses. The technology also allows him to take a still photograph of whatever is displayed in front of him, so that the image can be saved on an SD card.

Such revolutionary technology comes at a price, of course, as the price tag on these life-changing glasses is $10,000.

Ben Roberts, who became noticeably affected during the eSight demonstration, realized that these glasses can impact a better quality of life upon his son, and he immediately acted to begin raising the funds needed to purchase them.

With the tireless support of his wife Cassie, the couple has managed to raise roughly $3,900 of the $10,000 goal (current as of publication time). Within 24 hours’ time, they’ve launched a GoFundMe account, gone door-to-door in search of donations, printed flyers, and even planned a fundraiser event, set for July 13 at the Courtyard Lounge in Englewood.

Comedian and social media celebrity Amiri King has even taken notice of the Roberts’ quest to create a better world for Nicholas, and has taken to social media asking his fans for input on what sort of performance or event he can host to raise the remaining funds. King has also agreed to attend the July 13 event in Englewood.

Ben sent a private message to King via Facebook Thursday night, asking him for any sort of assistance in fundraising. King replied soon after, and agreed to support through his Amiri King Foundation. King will raffle off some sort of private appearance or performance to those who contribute to the Roberts campaign.

Nicholas’ condition was diagnosed when he was seven months-old, with doctors lining the hospital hall waiting to examine him, as they’d admittedly heard of the condition before, but had never seen it firsthand.

“They told me that he would never see, never drive a car, never play football,” Ben said of the doctors’ prognosis on that day 20 years ago.

He also said Nicholas took his first steps at age two, noting that the delay was likely a result of Nicholas’ condition.

“You don’t see, so you have no desire to go anywhere,” he explained.

Nicholas has certainly gone somewhere in life, however, as he just recently graduated from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Having received over $6,000 in scholarships, Nicholas will now be moving on to Palm Beach Community College, where he was just accepted. After graduating Palm Beach, he’ll then go to Florida Atlantic University, where he’ll study forensic psychology.

“He doesn’t have any quit in him,” said Ben of his son.

Nicholas said having the opportunity to own a pair of eSight glasses would make his life easier in all aspects of life, including the daily task of attending class.

“For college, I can definitely take notes and sit in a lecture and actually know what’s on the board, instead of having someone take notes for me,” Nicholas explained.

He’s also considered the other new world that could be opened to him by using the eSight glasses—one that includes travel to some of the globe’s most iconic landmarks, to witness the sights that before now seemed impossible to behold.

“I think it would be cool to actually go out of the country and see something in Europe—I don’t know, like the Eiffel tower. Anything different really,” Nicholas said.

He said the support he’s received in 24 hours is a bit overwhelming, but that he’s grateful to everyone’s contributions.

“The last day has been honestly quite emotional for me, I’m still trying to digest it all,” he said. “I do want to say something to the people who have donated and that are dad’s friends who are local—I just want to say thank you to everyone who has already helped out, and I definitely want to thank Amiri King for his foundation helping raise the money for the glasses.”

Cassie Roberts said Nicholas left Ohio earlier this week after visiting them for almost a month. She said he’s obviously done quite a bit of research on the eSight glasses, as he talked about them frequently, but almost seemed to regard them as something he would never have.

She learned from Ben on Wednesday that Nicholas would have the opportunity to sample the glasses the very next day. Ben said he wanted to join the demonstration in Boca Raton, but resigned himself to not being able to go due to the last-minute notification.

Unbeknownst to Ben, Cassie immediately set to work booking a flight to Florida and rental car for Ben, as she realized how important it would be to her husband to witness his son’s first glimpse at full vision. She surprised him with the good news on Wednesday evening, informing him of the already-booked itinerary via a Facebook post that Ben noticed not long after returning home from work. Ben left at 3 AM on Thursday, and returned home at 2 AM on Friday, not catching a single wink of sleep from excitement and adrenaline.

Ben stated that Nicholas shared with him his desire to visit the Statue of Liberty and climb to the top to look out over the world from above. One does not have to be a poet to realize the metaphor of this image—for what could be a more powerful ending to this journey than a man on top of the world, drinking in the privilege of newfound freedom of vision.

To contribute to the Roberts’ campaign, visit https://www.gofundme.com/esight-for-nicholas-roberts , or check https://theamirikingfoundation.org/ for updates on Amiri King’s fundraiser.

All are invited to Nicholas’ “Gift of Sight” fundraising event on July 13 at the Courtyard Lounge, located at 320 National Road, #11; Englewood, Ohio 45322. This event will include a cruise-in for cars and bikes, live band, 50/50 drawing, and a raffle. Donations for the raffle can be dropped off at the Courtyard Lounge at any time.

For more information, email Cassie Roberts at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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