Sophie (nee Rodrigues) Corah woke up in May 2017 having a problem with her eyesight. After a few months of her vision deteriorating, the 2016 graduate of Rio Rancho High School was declared legally blind. Two years later, Corah underwent pricey surgeries and had 20/20 vision.
Her story gained a large social media following, and she was in New York Monday recording an episode of the Tamron Hall, which aired Friday.
Corah, who now works in the education department at the University of New Mexico and taught science for a year at RRHS, was diagnosed with keratoconus in 2017. The condition causes the cornea to be unable to hold its round shape. Then Sophie Rodrigues, she played tennis and soccer at RRHS. In August 2017, the 18-year-old Rio Rancho native was declared legally blind.
Corah went to UNM after RRHS. On the last day of her freshman year, Corah woke up, and everything was blurry.
“I thought I was just having some sort of allergic reaction or something, but then by the time I was driving, everything shifted off itself,” Corah said. “I just didn’t even feel safe driving. And then by the time I got to school, I couldn’t read the board and I couldn’t read a piece of paper. And it really just kept declining significantly after that one morning, but I lost a huge chunk of my vision within those first couple of hours.”
A few months later Corah was blind. She said she could still see but it was like “living in an optical illusion” where she would see 10 to 15 of one object. The condition just didn’t take her eyesight, it also impacted Corah mentally and emotionally.
“I think that was pretty intense period of denial and depression. I mean, the entire way that I interacted with the world was different simply because I went blind so quickly,” Corah said. “I really wasn’t equipped with the necessary tools that I needed to be a successfully independent and legally blind person. It took a while for me to learn and to get to that point, but immediately I had troubles eating, getting dressed by myself, going to the grocery store. I mean, I couldn’t drive that one day. After I lost a lot of vision, I didn’t drive for three years after so a big chunk of my independence is gone within a mere couple of hours. So really, just everyday tasks all of a sudden became a huge struggle.”
Of the many struggles, Corah listed anger, fear and isolation as the three worst consequences of her condition.
“There are three things that really stood out to me when when people asked me this; I would say the first one would be anger,” Corah said. “I think I was I was really angry for a while just at the world that this happening to me. Secondly, I was very fearful about the future. I just didn’t know what my life was gonna look like because everything I had envisioned was gone. The third thing, which was probably the most difficult for me, was I was experiencing a lot of social isolation. I couldn’t drive to go places. I didn’t realize how heavily I relied on reading people’s lips to understand socially what was going on. And I really missed seeing people’s faces and watching their facial expressions. So that really left me feeling not very well.”
Sophie eventually landed at Adams State in Colorado, where she made some new friends, including Christian Corah. The two instantly hit it off, becoming close friends with Christian supporting Sophie as her condition deteriorated.
Christian Corah and his mother, who worked in the medical field, researched the disease and discovered a surgery which would allow Sophie Corah to see again.
After fundraising nearly $20,000 for the procedures, which would stop the cornea from bending out of shape, Corah underwent a corneal collagen cross-linking treatment to keep keratoconus from progressing.
Corah was skeptical about the operation initially.
“We were getting lots of different opinions. Every doctor we went to had wildly different opinions,” Corah said. “So that was definitely hard, but this surgery had the least amount of risk. It wasn’t super invasive compared to the other ones. So we went ahead and were like, ‘You know what, let’s try it. What’s the worst that can happen? You know, it just doesn’t work.'”
She underwent four surgeries, two on each eye, that strengthened the bonds in her eyes to stop the digression of her corneas and had contacts implanted into her eyes.
About a year and a half later, in August 2019, she regained 20/20 vision.
“I was most excited to see the faces of my friends,” Corah said. “I had been buddies for so long, and they helped me so much through everything. So I was just super excited to see what they look like. I remember looking at my one of my best friends at the time and I just looked at her and I was like ‘Wow, you are so beautiful.’ And I was also really excited to just see nature. I really love hiking and all that stuff. When I first got my vision, I was always gawking over the cracks in the sidewalk and like the very mundane rocks in the front of my yard. I was just like crying over them. I thought that they were the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my life.”
What she didn’t see was Christian. The two kept in touch after the surgery but didn’t see each other for about three years after the surgery. Sophia changed that by taking a drive and showing up at Christian’s front door to profess her love for him.
“I drove seven and a half hours to tell him that I loved him even though I still hadn’t seen him in person,” Corah said.
Sophie and Christian began dating in 2020 and married in 2021.
“I’m definitely a believer that love is blind,” she said.