By Luke Kenton
This is the incredible moment a father-of-four is left overwhelmed with emotion, as he sees the faces of his family for the first time in nearly two decades.
At age 25, Joe Vasconcelos was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare degenerative disease initially affecting the peripheral vision, which eventually saw him registered as legally blind in 1998.
With his vision continuing to deteriorate, by 2004 the then father-of-three had completely lost the ability to see the faces of sons Justin,
Christopher and Joseph, and his wife, Jean – but that was to recently change.
Thirteen years and one child later – seven-year-old Nolan, who Joe has never physically seen before – the 53-year-old’s eldest son, Justin, brought his family to the attention of E-Sight, a technology company developing a state-of-the-art headset, allowing the legally blind to see again.
Eager to try anything to see his family once more, Joe organized a trial session with the company, and, after having the eyewear adjusted to his specific needs, the Joe can be seen left overwhelmed with emotion as he stares down at a phone to see his wife’s face for the first time clearly in nearly two decades.
Visibly shaking as the tears started to roll down his face, Joe, from Halifax, Massachusetts, USA, said: “I felt a surge of anxiety right before trying on the glasses. I’ve always known there to be no cure for my condition, but the idea of being able to see again was incredibly exciting.
“Words can’t describe how it felt – after all these years of wondering and trying to picture what my family looked like, to actually be able to see them in front of me again.
“It was incredibly surreal, I’d still pictured my wife as a younger version of herself, but she still is as beautiful as ever.”
As Jean, who has been with Joe for 36 years, takes a seat in front of him, Joe is visually stunned at his newfound ability to see his wife again; he sits silently, just smiling right back at her.
But as the initial emotion begins to wear off, not all of his children’s appearances are greeted with the same degree of approval.
After not being able to tell 27-year-old Justin and 20-year-old Joey apart, having not seen either of their faces since they were fourteen and seven respectively, 24-year-old Christopher’s long-haired appearance, however, is met with a different tone.
Now fully adjusted to the cameras over his eyes, a jovial Joe jokes for Christopher to ‘cut his hair’, before breaking out into laughter at his son’s side-parting.
Looking down to see Nolan for the very first time, Joe is again taken aback by the situation, and he attempts to stifle the tears once more, simply saying, ‘That’s amazing!’
Son Joseph, who filmed his dad’s emotional reaction, said: “The last time my dad saw me I was only 7-years-old, so for him to see me now as a 20-year-old man with a beard was incredibly surprising.
“Since losing his vision, my dad’s anxiety disorder has been heightened, not to mention he hasn’t been able to enjoy so many other aspects of his life, from seeing us graduate to watching his favourite sports teams on the TV.
“As the glasses cost $10,000 to buy, and, unfortunately, after having experienced what it’s like to see again, my dad had to leave the glasses behind, leaving him once again feeling very anxious.
“We’ve set up a GoFundMe page in the hope that we can raise enough money to bring him a pair of these E-Sight glasses home.
“They will allow him to do so much that he can’t now – even the simplest things like using a cell phone or seeing his children’s future weddings
“Hopefully soon we will be able to buy him the glasses and allow him to enjoy the aspects of life he’s been missing out on for the last few years.”
To donate to Joe’s E-Sight glasses fund, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/kvg97hjt