Blind Man Regains Sight After 40 Years

When he was just three years old, Mike May lost his vision when a jar of fuel for a lantern exploded in his face. It destroyed his left eye and scarred the cornea of his right eye. Still, he never let his blindness slow him down. He played flag football in elementary school, soccer in college, and nearly any activity that didn’t involve projectiles. He earned a master’s degree in international affairs from Johns Hopkins, got a job with the CIA, and became president and CEO of Sendero Group, a company that makes talking GPS systems for the blind. Along the way, he got married, had two children, bought a house in Davis, Calif., and life moved on. Then, in 1999, he participated in a clinical trial to replace corneal stem cells. On March 7, 2000, when the wraps were removed, May got his first look at his wife, his children, and for the first time since he was a toddler, himself. There was only one problem: Even though his one good eye now worked perfectly, the visual part of his brain was so underdeveloped that it couldn’t make sense of the information coming in. For example, when Mike walked down the street, he couldn't recognize perspective lines, so he used visual landmarks to keep his bearings. After spending months retraining his brain, Mike’s eye and brain are on the same page and he can do anything he wants. One of the first things he did was to go skiing.