A mum from Eastwood has shared the day-to-day struggles of having an eye condition which will eventually leave her with no central vision.
Eight years ago, Sarah Martin, 36, was struggling to see properly when driving at night so she booked herself an eye appointment because she thought she may need glasses.
However, when she was checked out by an optician she was urgently rushed to hopsital.
After a number of tests, Mrs Martin was told she has Stargardt disease – a genetic eye condition which causes progressive vision loss.
The mum-of-one said when she was told the devastating news it felt like a “whirlwind”.
She said: “I just heard the words ‘going blind’ and ‘no cure’ and nothing else – I almost felt like I wasn’t in the room and it was happening to someone else.
“I was only 27 and I had driven to the appointment by myself and then all of a sudden I was no longer allowed to drive and I had to rely on everyone else for everything, I completely lost all my independence.
“I was frightened to death that I wouldn’t see my little boy grow up.”
Since that day, Mrs Martin has been progressively losing her central vision and now she sees a dark circle in front of her eyes.
However, although part of her vision has been lost and it will inevitably get worse, it still doesn’t stop her doing every day activities like watching her eight-year-old son, Jake, play football.
The former health care assistant said: “Jake is so brilliant and so grown up for his age, he will always hold my hand when we are out so I know where I am going and he wears bright coloured shoes on the football pitch so that I can tell which one is him.
“I still enjoy cooking for my family though, but I do have to make sure my husband, Neil, checks whether it is all cooked through, otherwise I might end up poisoning everyone.
“Even though I am losing my sight, it doesn’t stop Jake leaving his shoes on the stairs for me to trip over!”
Her husband Neil said he was so proud of his wife for being able to share her story.
He said: “I’m so proud of Sarah for how she deals with everything she has gone through, it has taken her a long time to feel comfortable sharing her story and now she’s so determined to spread awareness of her condition and raise money to find a cure.”
Jake said he thought his mum was the bravest person in the world.
Although, she was diagnosed at 27, she said now she understands she had symptoms through childhood.
The main symptom she remembers were her eyes struggling to adjust after coming out of the cinema and as a child she always wanted the lights on even in the day time.
She added: “It does make sense now, everything just looked quite dull.
“I would recommend if anyone is worried about their eyes to go and get them checked out straight away; they are so precious and you just can’t risk it.”
Mrs Martin is now a patient at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and she is taking part in a research project looking into the genetic condition.
Although there is currently no cure she said she is “hopeful that one day there will be a cure.”
To raise money for vital research into the condition, she has decided to do a charity skydive at Langer airport for the Moorfields Eye Charity.
n To donate to Mrs Martin’s skydive visit https://bit.ly/2w7bLe4.