In the early hours of 14th August 2013, Kevin Coughlin was stunned to notice light reflecting off a mirror in his bathroom, marking the beginning of an extraordinary recovery. Having lost his sight in 1997 due to a rare genetic disorder named Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, he had lived in darkness for 16 years. Now, to the astonishment of his doctors, the “thick fog” that for so long had blocked his vision was beginning to lift; within a few years, he would regain 70% of his sight. Throughout the experience, Coughlin recorded the return of his sight in a journal that’s filled with moments of joy as he begins to see the world again. This entry comes eight months after that first glimpse.
The Diary Entry
April 20, 2014—for more than three months, I’ve been religiously viewing the Janet Jackson “Love Will Never Do without You” video on my computer. It is not because I have any affinity for the lyrics; instead, I chose it for my vivid recollection of its circa 1990, striking black and white Herb Ritz photography and art direction. It was my contention that it would be beneficial to exercise my eyes by viewing it, even if I could barely see it. At first, I could just sense subtle movement. With time, the contrast became more pronounced, and I could detect more movement. Today, I could not only follow the choreography, I could clearly see arms, heads, torsos and even fuzzy faces!
Kevin Coughlin’s entries can be found in Unblinded, a fascinating and moving book by Traci Medford-Rosow in which she retells his story and reprints much of his journal in the appendix. Highly recommended.
Excerpted from Unblinded: One Man’s Courageous Journey Through Darkness to Sight by Kevin Coughlin. Morgan James Publishing, 2018. Used with permission.
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