Living life with visual impairment

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When I was 17 years old I was diagnosed with Stargardts Macular Dystrophy after a drop in my vision and orange flecks were found in the backs of my eyes at a routine opticians appointments.
Stargardts Macular Dystrophy is an inherited eye condition that affects the macular which is the very central part of the retina, the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye. It causes reduction in the central detailed vision which is used when looking directly at something.

As my sight has deteriorated, I now have a blind spot in my central visual field which means I now use aids for most daily tasks. I also use a guide cane which not only helps me to find obstacles in my way but also allows the public to be aware of my visual impairment so they can give me space or offer help if I require it.

As my blind spot worsens more detail fades from what I am looking at so things such as recognising faces and watching TV are becoming increasingly difficult. I have found that living with a degenerative eye condition I am able to adapt and adjust to the visual changes over time. Although losing my sight can be scary and quite often hard to deal with I try to be as positive as I can and try to help others who may be in the same or similar situation.

At 17 I was given a list of things that I was not able to do and had to rethink any career choices. 3 years after I was listed as Sight Impaired, I was introduced to horses and was given the opportunity to learn how to ride and learn the horse lifestyle. Going to the horses and learning how to ride has given me the biggest form of independency as my vision has degenerated over the years. The more my vision changes the more important it is to me that horses stay in my life and I hold onto that form of independency.

Recently, I had a fall with a horse which resulted in my confidence being shattered and this turned into fear around horses. I knew that giving up wasn’t an option as horses have been my escape place from sight loss over the past 6 years and it meant too much to me to walk away. I took myself right back to basics of just being on the ground with the horses I was comfortable with and grooming. I took small steps and now have the majority of my confidence back and am even more determined to complete my original goals within the horse world. Having something I love and having that safe, escape place I can feel independent has been so important to me living with sight loss and I highly recommend anybody else living with sight loss or any other disability, visible or invisible, finds something they’re passionate about which helps them feel this same way.