Brooklyn Man Regains Eyesight After Being Blind For Nearly 20 Years

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn man who was blind for nearly 20 years regained his eyesight, without the help of doctors or medicine.

For years, Kevin Coughlin needed his companion, Elias, to guide him around the city as his only eyes. But now, it’s just a regular leash for the dog, because Coughlin is, as he put it, “unblinded.”

He said what was like a thick white fog over his eyes miraculously lifted.

“I really thought I was dreaming,” he told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.

The 55-year-old said when light and shapes surprisingly came into view, his shocked doctors hailed it as an almost unheard of reversal of Leber Optic Neuropathy, which is a hereditary condition that impairs and destroys optic nerve cells.

“On August 14, 2014, I got up to go to the bathroom, I literately just was shocked that I was seeing a reflection of light in my medicine cabinet,” he said.

Coughlin said he has regained 70 percent of his eyesight and believes it is improving every day.

Doctors were amazed.

“I’m not aware of another case like this in medical history actually — a true Optic Neuropathy that resolved itself after 20 years. So it’s a fantastic story,” Dr. Susan Fromer, from Lenox Hill Hospital, said.

Coughlin said he thinks a change in his diet to foods rich in antioxidants and spiritual strength played a role.

“Now, I’m totally different. I’m a person who meditates daily, I pray,” he said.

In 2003, Coughlin made headlines as an advocate and educator after filing lawsuits against businesses he said refused to grant access to his then-guide dog, Ruger.

Being able to see the face of his current dog, Elias, is something he counts as his favorite sight in a city that is now alive with new possibilities for the two of them.

Coughlin is in the process of writing a book about his case.

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