The Texas Republican and former Navy SEAL lost his right eye in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2012, which also damaged his left eye

By Sean Neumann
April 14, 2021 05:12 PM
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Rep. Dan Crenshaw
Rep. Dan Crenshaw
| Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Rep. Dan Crenshaw said he'll be "effectively blind" for about a month while he recovers from retina surgery over the weekend.

The Texas lawmaker and former Navy SEAL lost his right eye — for which he wears an eye patch — in 2012 during an explosion while deployed in Afghanistan. The vision in his left eye was also damaged.

In a statement over the weekend, the Republican congressman said he "noticed some dark, blurry spots in my vision" in recent days and went to an ophthalmologist to find out what was wrong.

Crenshaw, 37, said his doctors told him Thursday the retina in his left eye was detaching and he needed to have it surgically repaired. He said his wife, Tara, drove him to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston for emergency surgery the next morning.

"The blast from 2012 caused a cataract, excessive tissue damage, and extensive damage to my retina," Crenshaw said in his statement about his left eye. "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."

"This is a terrifying prognosis for somebody with one eye," Crenshaw said, informing constituents and others that he would likely be less publicly active in the coming weeks while he recovers.

Tara "was by my side the entire time," Crenshaw said, adding, "The surgery went well, but I will be effectively blind for about a month."

Rep. Dan Crenshaw
Rep. Dan Crenshaw
| Credit: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty

Crenshaw said his doctors "put a gas bubble in my eye, which acts as a bandage for my retina," and that his recovery requires him to "be face-down for the next week or so, unable to see anything."

"I have gotten through worse before, and I will get through this," he added.

A spokesperson for Crenshaw told PEOPLE on Wednesday there was no update yet on the lawmaker's recovery.

Crenshaw rose to national prominence in 2018 after Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson joked about the politician's eye injury during an episode.

The punchline sparked outrage among conservatives and Davidson later apologized to Crenshaw in person during an episode.

Saturday Night Live - Season 44
From left to right: Rep. Dan Crenshaw appears alongside 'Saturday Night Live' star Pete Davidson on the show in 2018
| Credit: Will Heath/NBC

The GOP lawmaker, known for his blunt rhetoric and self-styled machismo, has become a leading conservative figure in Congress in recent years.

Crenshaw at times portrayed himself as a staunch supporter of Former President Donald Trump but criticized Trump for some of his most infamous actions as commander-in-chief, such as Trump's behavior after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in January.

Crenshaw, who took office in 2019k was re-elected in November in Texas' 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of the Houston area.

"I've got Tara by my side, and we are here in Houston with plenty of support," he said this weekend. "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."