I Wake Up Every Morning Fearing I’ve Gone Blind: Instagram Model

Nikita ‘Kat’ suffers from Keratconus or ‘conical eye’, as a result of which, “I see 50 moons instead of one”.

4 min read

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia

Camera: Abhay Sharma, Nitin Chopra

Nikita doesn’t write her last name on social media and adds the suffix ‘Kat’ to her first name. She doesn’t like to use it, she says, and wants to make it on her own.

‘Making it on her own’ entails fashioning photoshoots for herself in self-purposed studios which are actually living rooms of friends’ houses. ‘Making it on her own’ also entails clicking a Bluetooth button clutched firmly in her hand, in “random blindness”, and squinting at the camera, hoping she’s got a nice shot. She has to ensure it’s not too sunny where she’s shooting or she’ll be holding her head and blinking her eyes for days after.


You see, ‘making it on her own’ for Nikita ‘Kat’ is also battling a little-known condition called Keratoconus – which she describes patiently to people who ask her as “conical eyes”. Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea of the eye bulges outward into a cone – causing light rays to disseminate on the retina at multiple focal points, instead of one. Simply put? Her conical cornea gives her ‘ghost vision’.

“I see 50 moons in place of one,” she tells me simply.

“I can see shapes. And the colour of your skin,” says Nikita.
(Photo: Abhay Sharma/The Quint)

So can she see me right now? “I can see shapes. And the colour – the colour of your skin. But I can’t see a nose, ears, eyes – all of this, of course, without lenses. With my lenses on, and if I get really close – like I did the first time I met you – I can see properly.”

"I Don’t Want to Go Blind”

I’m not sure what ‘properly’ means for Nikita who describes feeling around for the banister of a staircase in an unfamiliar place – “because the steps in front of me look like a giant sled” – but she has learnt to compartmentalise her life ever since she was diagnosed with the debilitating eye disorder in college. Attempting and giving up a finance job because she couldn’t see the numbers (“2, 4, 6 and 8 all look the same to me – round squiggles”), she now runs an Instagram page where she models for brands.

A photo that Nikita clicked for Instagram.
(Photo Courtesy: Nikita ‘Kat’)
“I shoot by myself – setting up a tripod in random locations, and then walking towards it, clicking the Bluetooth button in my fist. I have to wait for the sun to go down if I’m not wearing my hard lenses, because I’ll hurt for days after. Then, I edit them myself. I’ll edit for a day and rest the entire day after because the glare from a laptop device strains my eyes.”

When Nikita’s poor, gradually deteriorating vision was diagnosed by a doctor as Keratoconus, her parents were told that she could go blind “anytime, any minute” unless she got corrective surgery. They’d gotten to the diagnosis late, and therefore, Nikita needed a corneal cross-linking surgery – which, otherwise, patients of Keratoconus who are diagnosed early, can do without.

The surgery has ensured that Nikita’s vision has been restored to a great extent for now, but there are no guarantees, she worries.

She now lives on her own, in a rented apartment away from her parents, determined to work at building her social media profile after being forced to give up finance (“I didn’t want to go blind, you know,” she says of the job she loved but was compelled to quit).

Nikita, mid-shoot during one of her photoshoots.
(Photo: Abhay Sharma/FIT)

Of Constant Paranoia and Friends in Strangers

Identifying as an Instagrammer today, Nikita Kat has over 41,000 followers who dote on her photographs – followers that Nikita ensures know about her condition.

“I almost always use a hashtag for Keratoconus and post about how easy or hard it’s been to take a particular photo, in sun or shade. A lot of people who suffer from Keratoconus have gotten in touch with me too, because of my posts. We’ve formed an informal support group of sorts, where we’re constantly reassuring each other that we won’t go blind!” Nikita laughs.

The terror of imminent blindness is all-pervasive, one that Nikita even terms as “paranoia”, waking up in the middle of the night and blinking several times to ensure she can still see.

Our interview too, was punctuated intermittently by Nikita shutting one eye after the other – an activity she performs almost without notice, she says. But she believes that her talking about it – whether on Instagram (that she laughingly claims to “live for”) and videos like this one, will bring awareness to Keratoconus and the people who have it.

Nikita wears hard lenses to help “push the eye in” so she can see better.
(Photo: Nitin Chopra/FIT)

She wants to make a difference, because “Imagine not being able to see properly?” she urges, over and over again.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider

or more


3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!