My Health Experience: ‘Going blind won’t be the end of the world’
The condition does jumps once in a while. It’s not a linear progression into blindness but it will continue on and on. But at the retina conference, I heard that only 8 per cent of people over 60 with the condition actually lose all their sight to it. I was quite surprised at that figure.
Obviously, if you have only 5 per cent sight left, it’s almost like you’re legally blind. You’d be restricted but you would still be independent enough to walk about on your own. According to German law, I have a 70 per cent disability.
I’m used to it. I did basketball at lot when I was in high school but I struggled with that when I couldn’t see the ball anymore. Now I do rock climbing with a group at University College Cork where I’m studying. That’s a lot of fun. I run as well and walk for leisure.
I fundraise for Fighting Blindness and walked from Dresden to Cork during the summer. I raised €750. I walked during the day and by the time it got to nightfall, I was always in a camp or at someone’s house. I never had to walk in the dark.
My studying is going well. I have an issue if there’s a PowerPoint slide with black or dark green text on it. But usually it’s fine and I can read books normally.
Fighting Blindness provides counselling for people affected by sight loss. I haven’t had counselling. I think I’m okay. I’m not restricting myself in terms of social encounters. The most important thing for me is not to stay at home in fear of something happening if I go out. I really don’t feel I need counselling at the moment. Ask me again in 10 years.
What I have is a hidden disability. I’d prefer if it was more obvious. The progression of it can be related to stress. I don’t get stressed easily. I don’t really worry about my condition. There’s a lot of research being done and I’m hopeful it will lead to treatment in the future. There are things you can change and things you can’t change.
Not the end of the world
Even if I do go blind at some stage, it won’t be the end of the world. It would be a huge adjustment. Maybe I’m being unrealistic saying going blind wouldn’t be a big thing. I’m sure people who are blind are frustrated by a lot of things. I know my grandfather had moments of despair.
Basically, I’m pragmatic. I can raise funds for Fighting Blindness and I can raise awareness.
In conversation with