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Legally blind girl watches 'The Nutcracker' ballet with special glasses for the first time ever

Nine-year-old Lily Lueders was given the gift of a lifetime when Dell Technologies and eSight helped her watch her favorite ballet with advanced eyewear tech.

Legally blind girl watches 'The Nutcracker' ballet with special glasses for the first time ever
Image Source: eSight Eyewear / Instagram

Being diagnosed with blindness as a little girl can be rather difficult. While everyone else enjoys their favorite cartoons and is able to see all their favorite colors, you can be left feeling a little bit isolated. This was the case with little Lily Lueders, a nine-year-old girl who was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH) at just three months old. ONH is a congenital disorder that is characterized by the underdevelopment (or otherwise known as hypoplasia) of the optic nerves, which makes it difficult for those who have it to see clearly — if at all. Though Lily suffers from this condition, she was able to watch her favorite ballet, The Nutcracker, this year, PEOPLE Magazine reports. That's quite possibly the best Christmas gift any little girl could ask for!


Lily has complete blindness in her right eye and a limited 20/800 vision in her left eye. Because of a tiny malformation of the optic nerve in her brain, Lily experiences a range of symptoms, including nystagmas (which is when someone's eyes shake involuntarily) and problems with depth perception. But this hasn't slowed her down. According to her mom, Kimmy Lueders, Lily has been able to "navigate the world as she sees it." Mother Kimmy said in an interview with PEOPLE Magazine, "She has always done better than we could have imagined." Without a doubt, this nine-year-old is quite the braveheart.


Due to her condition, Lily (and other visually impaired members of the community) were graciously invited to a special live performance of the classic ballet The Nutcracker called Unseen Ballet earlier this month. The invitation was sponsored by Dell Technologies and its partners, eSight and Ballet Austin at The Long Center in Austin, Texas. But how was Lily and the other audience members able to watch the ballet, you may ask? Well, they were all handed advanced assistive eyewear technology. These eSight "glasses" use a cutting-edge camera, smart algorithms, and high-resolution screens in order to create a crystal clear, real-time image of the scene in front of its wearer. Therefore, those with vision loss are able to see and live independently.


Kimmy shared, "As sighted parents, we cannot fathom missing that sense. But we have always strived to provide early childhood support and today she is thriving. She confuses me because the girl can accidentally bump into a pole one day (if she isn’t paying attention), but pick up a quarter off the sidewalk the next day. The truth is, we have full expectations and faith in her and, in turn, she is one of the bravest, most independent people I know." As for the special performance of The Nutcracker, Lily, who has always been a huge fan of ballerinas, was completely enamored by the whole thing. "Lily was absolutely delighted by the ballet," her mother revealed. "She is not one to sit still, but there was a calmness and easy stillness to her during the performance. [It] was the most impactful thing she has experienced with the eSight [glasses]. She was enamored with the beautiful twirling dancers, of course, but to my surprise, she appreciated the entire set production the most. She absolutely loved seeing the details on the edges of the stage and the change of each set. I think the snow scene was her favorite. The giant beautiful snowflakes and falling snow. It was magic!"


Now, her parents hope that the eSight glasses help her in daily life, too. While she's already pretty brave and independent, the glasses will help her go even further. Kimmy stated, "She works very hard and has come a long way. Her life is not solely defined by lack of sight. We don’t exhaust ourselves trying to find a cure. She navigates life with such strength and determination... eSight adds a huge element of mobility, and [the ability to] experience more of the world outside of the school building. That’s huge... Lily is a very special little girl who deserves the world. eSight and Dell helped make that world a little more accessible."

Kudos to eSight and Dell for making little Lily's world just that much more magical!


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