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You Don’t Need Your Eyes When You’re Dead, But These People Do

The Circle of Light Photo Project is a collection of photographs taken by people whose blindness was cured through eye transplant surgeries. It's possible to replace a diseased cornea with healthy eye tissue from a donor and restore sight... quite literally healing the blind. These stunning pictures are a visual thank you for the donor families and a kick up the butt for any of us who haven’t signed up to donate our organs. 

Photographer: Darnel B., pet Italian greyhound “Dante," Fort Collins, Colorado.
Darnel describes his double cornea transplant as a life-changing event: “Now everything I see doesn’t appear airbrushed like a bad high school yearbook photo!”




Photographer: Lu Xu Ping, family portrait, Lanzhou, China. 
In May 2012 ORBIS International’s Flying Eye Hospital delivered six donated corneas from Colorado to Lanzhou in northwestern China. Lu Xu Ping’s transplant surgery was done in the plane’s state-of-the-art operating room. 


Photographer: Nick Lehnert, Monterey Coast, California.
A childhood accident destroyed Nick’s cornea almost 50 years ago. Cornea transplants can wear out, so he’s had a number of repeat surgeries during his life.


Photographer: Patti Kelly, Air Force Academy chapel grounds, Colorado. Patti had a cornea transplant in her left eye two years ago. “My vision is much better now. Not perfect, but good.” Which is reassuring as she’s a dental hygienist!


Photographer: Athena Spotted Bear, family members at the Crow Fair, Montana.
Athena Spotted Bear has had surgery on both eyes. She still wears glasses and has some stitches in her eyes but says she can now see “perfectly.”


Photographer: Mary Evans, outside a monastery in Romania.
Mary had her cornea transplant two years ago. She remembers taking this photograph while touring a monastery in Romania: “This beautiful rose was perfectly lit to highlight the raindrops and the wonderful variation of color.”


Photographer: Richard Rininger, Cimarron Mountain Range, Colorado.
Richard has suffered from keratoconus for 45 years. The eye disease changes the shape of the cornea, making it difficult to see as the eye bulges out. After his cornea transplants, Richard has 20/20 vision when he wears his contacts.


Photographer: Yang Jia Rui, Lanzhou, China This picture was taken on a disposable camera after Yang Jia Rui recovered from a cornea transplant.


Photographer: Misty Montgomery, Gulf Coast, southeastern U.S.
Misty was diagnosed with acanthamoeba keratitis. It sounds nasty because it is. The condition is caused by a waterborne parasite from wearing contacts. Misty’s surgery went so well, she now volunteers to talk about her transplant experience.


Photographer: Alyssa Tate, Winter Park, Colorado.
Alyssa was already blind in one eye and losing sight in the other when she had eye surgery. She made contact and keeps in touch with the parents of one of her donors. This photograph was taken during a ski trip with the donor family.

























@racheleehiggins/TikTok

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