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Charleston reverend regains sight after 14 years in the dark

The Rev. Philip Dunn regains his sight after 14 years of being in the dark. (WCHS/WVAH)

Imagine 14 years in the dark. For one Charleston reverend, that was a reality.

In 2003, the Rev. Philip Dunn was diagnosed with cataracts.

"I was only 45 at the time,” Dunn said. “And the doctor said, 'It's not that bad, probably won't give you trouble for years.' "

Just months later, Dunn said, he began seeing black dots in the center of his vision.

"That was the beginning of macular degeneration,” Dunn said.

It's a condition with no known cure, and for Dunn it soon turned to blindness.

"For the next 14 years, you know my vision just dropped out,” Dunn said.

Living with only dark shadows, the reverend continued preaching at Valley Christian Assembly in Charleston, preparing for each service by listening to his Bible on tape.

During that time, he and his wife walked their daughter down the aisle, and became grandparents to four.

"I knew in my heart I was going to be able to see again, I just didn't know when,” Dunn said.

So, he kept waiting for what he believed would be a miracle.

This past August, Dunn started having a severe headache in his left eye.

A cataract had ruptured, risking damage to his optic nerve, so he went in for surgery to have it removed.

When Dunn opened his eye, his doctor's only hope was that he would be able to see some light, but he saw something much different.

"I went in the kitchen, my wife said, 'Honey, you took the patch off.' I said, 'Yeah.' She said, 'What do you see?' I said, 'I can see you!' She was the first face I saw in 14 years,” Dunn said.

Although there is no cure for the macular degeneration, when the cataract in his left eye was removed, his doctor discovered that the black dots from macular degeneration were gone. After a second surgery to remove the cataract from his right eye, they discovered the macular degeneration had also cleared from his right eye.

Dunn finally got to see the father-daughter wedding dance he and his daughter made up when she was just a kid. He got to see his grandchildren's faces for the first time.

Within just three weeks of regaining his sight, he was back on the road. First, he traveled to Florida, and then he hopped in his 1998 minivan, and took off for California.

Dunn said he is often asked how long his clear vision will last. He said there is no way to know, but he is hoping it sticks around for the rest of his life.

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