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Manhattan Man Who Lost Sight Nearly 20 Years Ago Regains Vision

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- His doctors can't explain it, but a Manhattan man who went blind in 1997 has now regained most of his sight.

Kevin Coughlin, of Murray Hill, was blinded by optic nerve disease at age 36.

"I literally saw a very thick, impenetrable fog," Coughlin, who is now 55, told 1010 WINS' John Montone.

Coughlin remained blind until he started seeing shadows three years ago.

"In August of 2013 I saw a reflection of light on my medicine cabinet mirror after not seeing anything for 16 years," Couhglin said.

Last May was the first time Coughlin saw the face of his then-guide dog, a black lab named Elias.

"I'm seeing more and more, and Elias hasn't had his harness on for a year and a half," Coughlin said.

Now, Coughlin confidently walks Elias through the city streets.

"When I walked when I was blind I had this very tentative very self conscious gait, and now I have an expansive swagger," Coughlin said. "Just seeing all the buildings that have been put up in the last 20 years, seeing the restoration of Grand Central Station is incredible."

Coughlin has now regained 70 percent of his vision, and he claims his eyesight continues to improve.

And while his vision brings him great joy, Coughlin said losing his sight opened his eyes to the suffering of others.

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