Blind brothers’ road trip

Blind brothers' road trip

Two brothers with a devastating degenerative eye disease completed a once-in-a-lifetime road trip across the USA to see the sights before they both turn blind.

Justin Purvis, 38, and Tod Purvis, 43, have choroideremia, an inherited disorder which causes progressive loss of vision.

Medics have warned the pair that the disease is likely to cause them to completely lose their sight.

The brothers set out on a 38-day-long journey across the America to tick off items on their visual bucket list while they are still partially-sighted.

Tod, of Los Angeles, said: “When my vision first started to go in 2008, I got really down and depressed.

“I used to go to work and then come straight home and sit in my apartment – now I want to get out into the world and see things while I still can.

“Going on the trip with Justin brought me out of my apartment, seeing new things every day – it gave me a more positive attitude.”

Currently both brothers experience tunnel vision. Tod still has half of his vision remaining, while Justin, who lives in New Jersey, has only 15 per cent of his sight left.

The disease affects their peripheral vision, night vision and depth and colour perception.

Tod, who works as a television editor, said: “It’s like looking down a long tunnel and you can see the light at the end, but the tunnel is coated in mirrors – it’s like viewing the world through a static kaleidoscope.

“There are parts missing in your vision, so your brain tries to fill in the edges with the colours you can see.”

During the pair’s journey from New York to Los Angeles they covered 13,000 miles, taking in landmarks such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and Niagara Falls.

Tod and Justin drove the length of the country in a Ford Escape. Tod is still capable of driving but Justin has already been declared legally blind.

Tod said they were in search of the USA’s most picturesque spots so they could
cement the images in their minds forever.

He said: “We wanted to see some places we had never seen, as well as re-visit some places we had been to before and loved – we wanted to cram as many visuals into our heads as we could.

“The one place that sticks in my mind is the Devil’s Tower, which was used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It is such a surreal sight – we had never seen it before so we hung out there for a couple of hours just staring at it and taking it in.”

Tod and Justin also went back to the Grand Canyon, which the pair had visited on a family holiday as children.

He said: “We appreciated it better seeing it this time – knowing we might never see it again.”

Tod and Justin plan to keep travelling and visiting as many stunning locations as they can before they completely lose their vision.

Tod said: “I want to see everything – it’s not just landmarks, it’s museums and art galleries. It’s not just America – we want to see the world.

“I’m planning on going to Alaska next year and me and my wife went to the Galapagos Islands recently.”

Most people suffering from choroideremia will experience the most loss of vision during their late thirties.

Tod said: “If I do lose my vision I will miss the sight of sunsets the most.

“I would miss seeing the faces of people I love, but I will still be able to hear their voices and that will help me to remember what they look like.

“But I would find it difficult knowing I’ll never see my wife’s face again.”

The pair filmed their incredible journey across the USA in 2010. The film, called ‘Driving Blind’, was released this year and is available to rent on Vimeo and soon on Amazon.

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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