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'Terrifying prognosis’: Navy SEAL veteran Rep. Crenshaw has surgery on remaining eye

Former Navy SEAL and U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, shakes hands with top military officials at a White House ceremony on June, 25, 2019. Crenshaw underwent emergency surgery on Friday, April 9, 2021, for a detached retina, leaving him blind for at least a month.

CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES

By TODD J. GILLMAN | The Dallas Morning News | Published: April 10, 2021

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Houston Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan, underwent emergency surgery on Friday for a detached retina, leaving him blind for at least a month. Prospects for recovering his vision remain uncertain.

”This is a terrifying prognosis for someone with one eye, and the nature of the injuries that I sustained in Afghanistan,” the two-term Republican said in a statement issued by his office on Saturday. “Anyone who knows the history of my injuries knows that I don’t have a ‘good eye,’ but half a good eye. The blast from 2012 caused a cataract, excessive tissue damage, and extensive damage to my retina.”

“It was always a possibility that the effects of the damage to my retina would resurface, and it appears that is exactly what has happened,” said Crenshaw, 37.

Crenshaw began seeing “dark, blurry spots” earlier this week and went to ophthalmologist on Thursday. The doctor discovered that his retina was detaching.

“The prognosis I received on Thursday is obviously very bad,” he said.

He underwent emergency surgery on Friday morning at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. A gas bubble was inserted into his eye to act as a bandage for his retina, he said, and he’ll need to remain face down for about a week.

“The surgery went well, but I will be effectively blind for about a month,” he said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, called Crenshaw “a fighter” and said on Twitter, “he’s going to win this battle, too. He has the support and prayers of every one of his colleagues. We are praying for his full recovery, and know he will take this challenge on the same way he fought to protect our country.”

Crenshaw said he will remain off social media, other than to give updates about his recovery, and will refrain from giving interviews.

“I have gotten through worse before, and I will get through this,” he wrote, noting that his wife, Tara, has been at his side throughout. “We are here in Houston with plenty of support. A few prayers that my vision will get back to normal and that I will make a full recovery wouldn’t hurt, though, and would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your thoughts, prayers, and support.”

Crenshaw was elected to Congress in 2018 and reelected last year.

The injury that cost his right eye came six months into his third deployment, when he was hit by an IED blast during a mission in Helmand province. His left eye was also badly damaged and it took several surgeries before he regained sight.

He deployed two more times, to the Middle East in 2014 and to South Korea in 2016. He retired from the Navy in September 2016 as a lieutenant commander, leaving with two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

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