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The Miracle of Sight

The hardest part was not knowing what it was. I had yearly checkups with my ophthalmologist and clung to my faith that one day healing—or at least an explanation—would come.

person in shadow stands on top of a rock before dawn

Today’s guest blogger is assistant editor Daniel Kessel.

I stepped outside into the bright sunshine, lugging two garbage bags to the dumpster in the parking lot. That’s when it happened. An intense flash of light shot into my left eye, like a reflection off some polished surface. It felt like the sun was burning a hole in my retina. I closed my eyes and rubbed them, but a vivid imprint flickered there, a little to the left in my field of vision.

That moment happened more than seven years ago, but it’s still scorched into my memory. I was 18 years old, just out of high school, and saving up for a trip to South America. I’d found the perfect job as the shipping/receiving clerk at a warranty center for digital products. One of my duties was to take out the trash and recycling. Simple enough.

But that afternoon, I had no idea what was happening. I felt dizzy, and everything was dark except for that flicker. My manager saw how disoriented I was and sent me home to rest.

Now that I’m well-versed in Mysterious Ways, I’m more comfortable accepting the things we can’t explain. For a long time, though, that afternoon haunted me. From that point on, the small dark spot in my left eye remained, and I worried it wouldn’t stay small. What if the darkness developed into full or partial blindness?

My parents worried too. They took me to an ophthalmologist, who ran a slew of high-tech vision tests. “Strange,” the ophthalmologist said. Every test indicated that both of my eyes were fine. No “dark spot” showed up anywhere. Other specialists confirmed that nothing was wrong.

Was I crazy? Was it all in my head?

The hardest part was not knowing what it was. I had yearly checkups with my ophthalmologist and clung to my faith that one day healing—or at least an explanation—would come.

Maybe that’s why I identified with the story told in Mysterious Ways by Sam Vaught of Camp Creek, West Virginia. He nearly lost his sight completely after a vein attached to his retina hemorrhaged. An encounter with a blind stranger at his town’s annual ramp festival helped him accept his new reality—which led to a miracle he never expected.

I recently came across the story of Bruce Bridgeman, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who lived with extreme vision impairment. His eyes were misaligned, which made the world look like a flat blur of colors. In February 2012, he and his wife went to see the movie “Hugo” in 3-D.

He put on the 3-D glasses and watched the characters and scenery in the film jump out, unlike anything he’d experienced ever before. Even when he took the glasses off, he could see clearly, in full depth! The film seemed to have triggered something in Bruce’s brain that corrected his eyesight, permanently.

My blind spot never grew bigger, but it didn’t go away either. At every checkup, my ophthalmologist assured me that nothing appeared to be wrong. One year, I noticed a new, upgraded machine in the office. A visual field test, the doctor told me. He instructed me to put my eyes up to the lenses of the machine and press a button whenever I saw a red light.

“Would you look at that?” he said after the test. On his computer, a map of my vision showed an abnormality in my left eye—a small gap, right where the dark spot was!

“That’s a scotoma,” he said. “A blind area in visual field. Generally benign. You have nothing to worry about.”

He couldn’t say what caused it, but I was okay with that. After years of not knowing, I’d finally received the explanation I needed. I had nothing to fear.

Have you ever had a medical mystery or a mysterious healing? Tell us your story!

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