CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Imagine 14 years in the dark. For one Charleston reverend, that was a reality.
In 2003, Reverend Philip Dunn was diagnosed with cataracts.
"I was only 45 at the time,” said Dunn. “And the doctor said, it's not that bad, probably won't give you trouble for years."
However, 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, Reverend Dunn 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 the miracle he believed would one day come.
This past August, Reverend 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 Reverend 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.
The black dots from macular degeneration were gone. After a second surgery to removed the cataracts from his right eye, his sight was fully restored.
He 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 travelled to Florida, and then he hopped in his 1998 minivan, and took off for California.
Reverend Dunn said he is often asked how long his clear vision will last. He said there's no way to know, but he's hoping it sticks around for the rest of his life.