The beauty truly is in the details. Andrew Airey was born with a genetic disorder known as Stargardt Macular Dystrophy, but wasn’t properly diagnosed until he was an adult. As a result, Airey often struggled with his eyesight as a child, but it wasn’t until he was in his mid-20s that he pretty much lost his eyesight entirely.
By then, he was already in a relationship with his now-wife, Kelli, whom he calls a “covenant wife.”
“Kelli knew that I had low vision and it was something that she accepted,” Airey tells The Knot. “I was going to specialists often and it was not until 2006 that I was able to get some real answers about my eye problems… I lost my detail vision, color vision, the ability to focus in on items at several distances. I was upset. Kelli knew that there was no cure and my eyesight would get worse. … She has been right by my side through this whole endeavor.”
When the pair got married in August 2002, Airey remembers he wasn’t able to really see Kelli’s face or any other details from their special day—a fact that still haunts him.
“I have been out of focus for too long,” he says. “When you have an eye disease, it is challenging to function at a high level. I am a tenacious individual and I will try to the best of my ability to overcome any challenge that life brings. I was not able to see my wife’s face… Honestly, the average person has no idea what it is like and lack of awareness is prevalent in our world.”
In 2015, then the couple happened upon eSight Corp, a new technology company giving legally blind individuals the gift of sight, after actively searching for possible solutions. From there, Director of Marketing Jeff Fenton reached out to the couple with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to recreate their wedding. This time, Airey would be able to see it all.
The pair, who share three daughters, gathered close friends and family, and, as documented in a viral video shared on eSight’s Facebook page, they recreated their celebration of love. “It was an incredible experience,” Airey says. “I was able to see Kelli walk down the aisle smiling the whole time. I saw her beautiful face, her dress, and her veil. I will never forget it.”
Airey noticed other details too: When my daughters walked down the aisle I could see their sweet faces, their facial features which have been a blur for so long. I remember seeing my daughter Ava’s ring on her finger and the diamonds in Kelli’s veil. The details of everyday life, which so many people take for granted, were brought to life for me again that day.”
Now, Airey and his family are excited to experience life with his rediscovered vision, and he tells The Knot that though there are so many things he’s excited to see, the one that he’s most thankful for is being able to see his three daughters dancing.
“One of the most precious moments was seeing each of my daughters in their dance classes,” Airey says. “All three girls have a passion for dance and have danced at a local studio, Creative Sole, for years. I have missed out on actually being able to see them during some of their happiest moments. As I write this, my girls are preparing for their recital tonight and tomorrow. Words cannot describe how much I am looking forward to watching them dance on stage. This is their sixth dance recital, but for me, it will all be new thanks to my eSight glasses.”
In retrospect, Airey says he sees the deeper meaning and implications behind his eye disease and his family’s love and support through it all. “I know there is a greater purpose for our lives,” he says. “I believe that God chose me to inspire others through this challenge. I have lost my sight, but not my vision.”