Chris has had eyesight problems as early as his primary school days. He recalls having particular trouble seeing in the dark. Chris was then officially diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1979.
In the years that followed, his eyesight gradually worsened and when he moved to Didcot in 1991, he was registered as Severely Sight Impaired by the John Radcliffe Hospital.
“The biggest impact of my visual impairment is that it slows everything down. I do a lot of writing and reading. In the past I could just sit down and read something straight away, then write it and no worries, but now everything takes me much longer. I’m at the stage now that if I write something, I can’t see what I’ve written,” said Chris.
One of the biggest changes for Chris after being registered as sight impaired was that he was given a white cane. “At first, I was a little bit hesitant. With my cane I found that I had people coming up and offering help. Thinking back, the biggest mistake I made is that I didn’t have a cane earlier,” said Chris.
Chris first became involved with MyVision shortly after moving to Didcot and he has long been an active member of our social groups.
“What I enjoy most about the groups are the activities. Devante [our Community Engagement Worker] organised quite a few things. We had a wellbeing session, for which we once made a mosaic and that was completely different for me. Most of my life was writing and reading but to do something with my hands like that was completely new. I found it quite relaxing. A previous time, we made clay sculptures and I attempted to make a house (I don’t think it’ll win any awards). It’s on my mantlepiece at the moment but I’ll put it in the Royal Academy’s beginner’s section.”
“Devante also took us to a touch tour at St Mary’s Church in Charlbury. They had this equipment that replicated the wall paintings. A wonderful piece of kit that was. More recently we went to the Wallingford Museum. I also joined a talking book group. I’ve never had a talking book but that has been quite good.”
Chris also really enjoys the discussions in the social groups. “We compare and discuss experiences,” he said. These moments show Chris and others like him that they aren’t alone and that there are others who are having similar experiences.
MyVision has played a large role in Chris’ life. He is a very active member of our social groups. He said that MyVision has been “a helpful and supporting organisation. I’ve had a lot of help. There’s also an understanding so the support comes with sympathy; people at MyVision truly understand the issues.”
Since his initial diagnosis he has had much experience with what day to day life with sight loss is like. One of the things that most benefitted Chris was having a cane. He finds that it avoids possible confusion with the public and makes people aware that he is visually impaired and may therefore need certain things to be done differently.
“If I didn’t have my cane, I don’t know what I’d do,” said Chris.
Chris finished off with a piece of advice to other visually impaired people. “Never give up. Things can become challenging but nothing’s impossible.”