Guest blog: Frustrations of gradual sight loss

Today’s blog is written by  Ryan Compton, Director of Centre for Resolution. He documents his personal experiences of gradual sight loss.

I was born and raised in Manchester. As a child I had tons of energy, always moving about. Aged 3 I attended my first appointment for a checkup to see if I had inherited the eye condition, Glaucoma. High Five, I came out with no problems. Carrying on from this I would often go for walks around the nature reserve in Manchester. That’s right Manchester actually has some greenery. As I started to get a little older I started complaining of headaches, my mum always used to think it was due to the sun or dehydration.

Aged 6, I was playing out in the street one day walking to my mum’s house with my grandma after staying at hers the night before. I loved staying at grandma’s. She was my best friend. As I was walking I covered my right eye to notice I couldn’t see out of the left. When I eventually got home my mum and dad took me to the eye hospital. Only to be told there was nothing they could do for the left eye and that they needed to start work on the right eye. As if that wasn’t enough to take on I was then told I had to have double eye surgery that day to reduce the pain in my non-seeing eye and to reduce the pressure in my right eye. I won’t bore you with the technical jargon that is Glaucoma. This was to be the first of many operations. One of my surgeons said last week he thinks I’ve had in excess of 100 operations. I was under the illusion for years I’d had 70 operations. I think I must have lost count somewhere along the way.

As a result of this my childhood was often interrupted as well as education. This was frustrating for me as I always placed doubt on my academic abilities. By the time I got to high school I was 3 years behind. With having an eye condition it was not detected that I also had dyslexia, as many of the tests for dyslexia are visual therefore making assessors believe it was just my eye condition. Unaware of this aged 17 I thought to myself something isn’t clicking right here and whilst in college I asked for a dyslexia assessment. It came back with flashing colours, Red Alert! Red Alert! showing I have dyslexia in every possible way other than my oral communication skills.

Interestingly enough growing up I always preferred conversating with adults. I was always a good communicator. I feel this is partly because the most effective way for me to communicate was verbally. After many years of being in and out of education and 9 different attempts at college some successful some not, I came to the understanding that learning for me on the whole was extremely boring. Unless I could be made to understand the purpose it served or you gave me a subject of interest where I could engage and explore verbally. This also gave me the opportunity to listen to others, which is also another one of my strengths. It can be really frustrating growing up with gradual sight loss and its even more frustrating when some of your hobbies for instance walking, watching facial expressions in comedy and wrestling are taken away as they are not as enjoyable anymore. It has opened up the doors to me being into podcasts, going to comedy nights in person to soak up the atmosphere and being able to listen into several conversations at once. That’s right don’t say anything in passing that you don’t want me to hear haha.

All in all although my eye condition can drive me wild at times, especially wasting countless hours over the years trying to look for things I’ve misplaced and pair socks up you eventually get to the point, or I did, where you embrace your strengths and I try to work on my weaknesses (apart from cooking because I can’t stand it).

To find out more information about the work Ryan does offering a variety of support services to people with disabilities including coaching, mentoring, advocacy and mediation please visit www.centreforresolution.com.

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