A rare disease called congenital aniridia limited the boy's sight. Nathaniel was born without irises, which are the colored part of the eye that control light. Without an iris the eye is all pupil and lets in too much light.
"We always made sure Nathaniel had his sunglasses and baseball hat on whenever he goes outside to protect his eyes," said Nathaniel's mother, Karen Jennings.
The condition meant Nathaniel's vision was muted, cloudy and often black and white.
"Nathaniel saw a car out the window and he said, 'Hey mom, look at that car. It has black and white stripes.' But the car really had bright orange and white stripes and he was detecting it as black and white 'cause he couldn't tell the difference," Jennings said.
On Thursday, surgeons at the Cincinnati Eye Institute performed a procedure to change Nathaniel's vision. They implanted an iris transplant in the boy's right eye and within 24 hours Nathaniel could see vivid colors for the first time in his life.
"It's good I could see colors I was supposed to see," Nathaniel said. The surgery was the first of its kind for a child and only the fourth one ever performed in the United States. The difference is clear when you compare the look of Nathaniel's right eye versus his left, which has yet to receive a transplant.
"For him to have the patch taken off and start looking around the room and seeing all the different colors, it was so exciting. It was like, 'wow, this worked right away,'" Jennings said.
The operation also improved Nathaniel's overall sight.
"I'm very happy. I'm glad it helps to get my eyes better," Nathaniel said.