Learning to cope with loss of sight

Geoff Smart, from Tunstall, Sunderland, with his two year old guide dog Oscar.
Geoff Smart, from Tunstall, Sunderland, with his two year old guide dog Oscar.
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WEARSIDERS say losing their sight is one of the worst things that could happen to them, a survey has revealed.

The Guide Dogs UK study showed 86 
per cent of people living in the region listed being blind at the top of a table of horror happenings.

The survey also showed fears that sight loss can lead to isolation and depression, as people felt they would no longer be able to work and would lose their independence.

Jayne George, of Guide Dogs UK, said: “Every hour another person in the UK goes blind.

“Blind and partially-sighted people overcome extraordinary challenges every day to live independently and do the things that the rest of us take for granted.”

But partially-sighted Geoff Smart, of Tunstall, disagrees with the survey, arguing he does not let it get in the way of leading a full life.

The 25-year-old said: “In a way I disagree with the survey.

“People shouldn’t feel that way about losing their sight, they shouldn’t feel afraid.

“People feel differently about things, but I know I’ve learned to live an independent life and it shouldn’t be feared.”

Geoff, who suffers from photophobia, a condition where the eye is intolerant to light causing discomfort, said she has overcome many issues to lead a normal life.

He said: “I think one of the best things people can do is to talk about it.

“Having someone help you and going out to meet people helps you gain confidence, try not to isolate yourself.

“Talk to friends and family too, tell them how you’re feeling, and help them understand.”

Having a guide dog has also helped Geoff.

He said: “When I got my first guide dog I was very, very shy and didn’t go out of the house much.

“Then I went away to study and the dog helped me meet people and gain my confidence, and it helped just having her there because I was nervous at first.”

For more information, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk.