Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland, by Boruch Len.Boruch Len

Boruch Len went to Ireland for sight-restoring surgery. The country wound up inspiring his vision as a photographer, too. Here’s his story, as well as some of the photos he took there. To see more of his work, visit his websites here and here. To see more of his photos from Ireland, click here

Since I was a kid, I've seen the world through a different lens. I’ve been told I was nuts. Now I'm making a life through my way of seeing, and suddenly, I have "vision". My goal is to let the camera show what my eyes see, my heart feels and my mind believes.

Cows lying down in Irish hillocks with fields divided by shrubbery in County Clare

Cows lying down in Irish hillocks with fields divided by shrubbery in County Clare

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1971. After first picking up a camera at the age of 8, I fell in love with photography and the ability to manipulate light. After having my camera and gear stolen at 19, I unfortunately put photography aside for the next 20 years. I have worked in the trades and real estate field hands-on for the last 25 years and have been an artist and craftsman with wood for even longer.

National Maritime Museum of Ireland steeple, St Stephens Church Steeple and County Council steeple in County Dun Laoghaire - Rathdown, Ireland

National Maritime Museum of Ireland steeple, St Stephens Church Steeple and County Council steeple in County Dun Laoghaire - Rathdown, Ireland

About six years ago, I jumped back into photography with both feet and have since been working in different areas of commercial photography including corporate headshots, real estate, aerial photography, product and industrial photography, incorporating all the precision, skills and knowledge I have gained in the trades, real estate and my artistic endeavors, and I am currently enrolled in an intensive photojournalism course to gain a new perspective.

I have been exceptionally blessed to have worked with and photographed landscapes, people, pets, places and events in numerous countries, including South Africa, Israel, Ireland, Germany and about 15 States in the USA (and counting).

Glendalough stream and ancient tower, Wicklow.

Glendalough stream and ancient tower, Wicklow.

I have always felt a connection with Ireland and have wanted to visit ever since I was a child. When I finally got the opportunity to visit for the first time two and a half years ago, it was a bittersweet journey.

I had laser vision correction done in the USA about 15 years ago, and unfortunately, I ended up being a statistic. I had great vision for about six years, until my vision started to deteriorate. Rapidly.

Johnnie Fox's Pub, Dún Laoghaire, Rathdown

Johnnie Fox's Pub, Dún Laoghaire, Rathdown

It took about six more years of testing to come to a conclusive diagnosis of ectasia, which is basically the same thing as keratoconus (which occurs naturally), but is caused by laser vision correction gone bad. Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease which causes changes in the shape of the cornea and can cause a very serious decrease in the quality of vision, often requiring corneal transplant.At the time of my diagnosis, there were no other FDA approved options in the USA. I was told that my only option was to undergo corneal transplant surgery.

Irish fields divided and surrounded by stone walls with cows in the forefront and houses and mountains in the rear County Clare

Irish fields divided and surrounded by stone walls with cows in the forefront and houses and mountains in the rear County Clare

I had heard of an experimental surgery called corneal cross linking which would stabilize my corneas by creating new links in the corneas, thereby negating the need for corneal transplants. Unfortunately, most doctors in the USA recommended against it at the time, plus, those who said they would do the surgery hadn’t done enough of them to make me feel confident or secure.

My health insurance plan wouldn’t cover the experimental surgery and the doctors were charging a fortune to basically experiment on me.

Kinvara Harbour - boats lined up on quay under dark stormy clouds

Kinvara Harbour - boats lined up on quay under dark stormy clouds

My eye sight had gotten so bad there were days that I couldn’t recognize my wife from 15 feet away. As a professional photographer relying on my sight for everything, I needed to do something fast.

I started doing research and found out that corneal cross linking had been performed countless times in Europe for over 10 years already. All of my research brought me to a clinic in Dublin called the Wellington Eye Clinic, and a doctor by the name of Dr. Arthur Cummings, an Irish eye surgeon who is an international authority on the study and treatment of keratoconus and ectasia.

The Dark Hedges from Game of Thrones, Kings Road - Ballymoney County Antrim

The Dark Hedges from Game of Thrones, Kings Road - Ballymoney County Antrim

In addition to pioneering current developments and surgery for the disease, he also invented a new treatment called SimLC, for which he was nominated for a National Health Award in Ireland in 2011.

So, off to Ireland I went, not being able to see a bloody thing. Here I have the opportunity to visit the most magical country in the world, a country that I have always been drawn to, and I couldn’t see it.

View of people on the path by Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge at the Causeway Coastline - Ballintoy, County Antrim Northern Ireland

View of people on the path by Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge at the Causeway Coastline - Ballintoy, County Antrim Northern Ireland

I was operated on by Dr. Cummings and his staff, and within a few days I was seeing well enough to start taking photos again. Over the next two years, my vision continued to improve, but due to the severity of my condition before the surgery, Dr. Cummings had warned me that I may have to come back for a follow-up surgery.

I traveled back to Ireland in August of last year to undergo the next set of surgeries to help improve my vision.

Guinness Brewery, St James gate Dublin

Guinness Brewery, St James gate Dublin

As a huge plus, at least this time, I was able to see well enough to travel and photograph extensively, and got to re-experience the warmth and hospitality of the Irish.

To say that any part of Ireland is my favorite, would be the same as saying that one of my eight children is my favorite. I just can’t do it.

Looking down Abbey Street from O'Connell Street, Dublin Ireland

Looking down Abbey Street from O'Connell Street, Dublin Ireland

If forced to choose, I would either say Dublin and/or County Clare. Or, more truthfully, that I haven’t seen enough of Ireland to really tell. Each time I would go to a new place, I would find such beauty there, that for many reasons, each place could be my favorite. And I keep imagining what magic could be just around the next corner.

I found Ireland inspiring in so many ways. This is a country that was torn apart by famine, politics and war, and you could easily imagine a land of discontent and strife, with hate and negativity permeating to the core.

Bridge over Liffy River in Dublin

Bridge over Liffy River in Dublin

But the exact opposite is true.

The country is beautiful, the people positive, warm, caring, upbeat, helpful, mischievous, fun, and very easy to get along with. Ireland inspires me with its rich and long history, its customs and traditions, but, most importantly, its soul. There really is a magic that you feel in the air.

I can’t wait to go back again. Ireland truly is everything I dreamed of and more.