Ari Hughes was 16 when he first lost sight in his right eye due to an optical disease called uveitis. At age 32, his other eye was affected by the condition, leaving him blind. Now, at 37, Hughes lives in Vacaville, Calif. with his parents. He attends a school for the blind in Oakland. He takes BART, a bus, and walks to get to school each week. Hughes is learning Braille and hopes to get a job upon completion of the program. (Story continues below.)
Hughes enjoys playing the drums, hanging out with his younger brother, Daniel, and going for walks with his dog, Eclipse. As a seeing-eye dog, Eclipse has the important responsibility of guiding Hughes through restaurants, public transportation and across the street. In return, Hughes takes care of Eclipse through daily walks, grooming, and affection.
Hughes and his brother like to play music in their parents’ garage — Daniel on bass and Ari on drums. Their repertoire consists of songs from Queen and the Beatles. Hughes found that the drums helped him to overcome the depression that came with blindness. After a group of his friends started taking him to concerts, his appreciation of music grew.
Hughes’ family and friends say his humor and optimism are an inspiration to them. He often jokes that, although he lost two eyes, he gained ten through his fingers. He uses his sense of hearing and touch to navigate through his daily routines. His message is simple: you don’t need your eyes to see.