Perhaps because he was home schooled, Dylan Raines never noticed his vision impairment. However, when he tried to get his driver’s license at age 16, he (and the Department of Public Safety) realized there was a serious problem. Trips to the eye doctor resulted in a diagnosis of keratoconus, and Dylan was fitted with gas permeable lenses which improved his vision. Dylan got his driver’s license, but within a few months, his KC had progressed and he could no longer tolerate the lenses. By age 19, Dylan already had a cornea transplant in one of his eyes. Eventually, he gave up his driver’s license and started relying on public transportation to get around.
A few years ago, Dylan decided to try walking rather than taking the bus. It was a revelation. He discovered a sense of freedom and joy he had not previously experienced. He enjoyed this (blurry) view of the world and decided to walk as a way to connect to the people around him. Asked about how he copes, he told NKCF, “The biggest way I have adapted with my vision – traveling and hiking – is that I learned how to trust people. Going to coffee shops or walking on streets, I have to ask people what the menu or sign says which often starts a conversation about vision and keratoconus, and then we even get into our life stories which form a genuine connection.”
Keratoconus taught Dylan the importance of trusting and relying on others. These days, Dylan is raising money for various causes he believes in – especially eliminating poverty and saving the environment through his charity, Earth Pilgrim. He finished a 1,000 hike and is planning a round-the-world, 25,000 mile adventure.
Follow Dylan’s travels on Facebook.