‘In February of 2016, I had the flu, a sinus infection, and mono all at the same time. It all damaged the optic nerve in my right eye. As a photographer myself, that’s my shooting eye. So, I was left partially blind for between three and six months. I went to numerous doctors, none of whom could tell me what was wrong. I finally went to the University of Utah and there, I was diagnosed with optic neuritis. I’m eighteen and it scared the daylights out of me. I started a steroid treatment and it brought back half of my eyesight in about a month and by May of last year, I had as much as I could get back. I’d say I have about ninety-five per cent of my eyesight back.

While it was all happening, I really thought I was going to be blind and I tried to learn how to adapt. I had a friend tell me to start memorizing paintings and words so I could look back in my mind and remember things once everything went dark. I spent a lot of time looking closely at the world and I started memorizing quotes and things that touched me. I worked hard not to forget the little things about my life… and the mountains, and what my family and my home looked like.

I found out that my eyesight isn’t everything. I learned to appreciate more than what I can actually see. All my other senses were heightened so I learned to appreciate sounds and smells. Still, I didn’t want to lose my photography. My dad and my aunt and I share a passion for photography. I learned to use my left eye but I really was terrified of losing the chance to create. It really was a lesson that time and ability are precious and it’s important to use them however you can while you can.

Even though it was scary, I never lost hope. You might not think about your eyesight every day but how many people wake up and can’t see? I found out that you just can’t take your senses for granted. If I were to lose my eyesight, I would still find a way to create. If I couldn’t take my pictures, I would write about what I have seen and what I can imagine is there to be seen. Even now, if I close my eyes, I can feel the breeze more and I can hear steps and traffic. Even in the darkness, I can imagine the green of the grass and the blue of the sky. I can imagine the eyes of my family. I would work to create something that helps me to never forget all that I have seen.’

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