Q&A – My Aniridia & Nystagmus

A few of my recent posts about my visual impairment have become very popular, which has been wonderful of course. In large part this is because the RNIB have very kindly shared them, which has enabled them to reach a huge audience.

The posts in question are Room 101 – My Visually Impaired Frustrations (which is also on the RNIB Connect website in edited form), my How I See video (which has had an overwhelming response on their Facebook page) and my Nystagmus Tag (which has had quite a few shares since RNIB’s retweet. Thank you to everyone who has liked, shared and commented on all of that, it’s very much appreciated.

As a result of those posts, various people have got in touch with questions relating to my conditions. I’ve answered them all either privately or in the comments area they were posted in. But I thought I’d summarise the questions and my responses here as well, in case others find it useful.

Thank you to Sam, Charlotte and Nadine for the questions in this post, I’m happy to help as best I can. And if any of you reading this want to ask me anything about my visual impairment, or anything else for that matter, then feel free to comment here or on my Twitter or Facebook feeds. I’m happy to do more Q&A posts like this if people wish.

So here are the questions and answers. I hope you find it interesting and useful. I’ve also made a video of my responses as well.

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Nystagmus Tag

Today, November 1st 2017, is Nystagmus Awareness Day (aka Wobbly Wednesday), set up by the Nystagmus Network here in the UK. Nystagmus is a condition where the eyes shake and move involuntarily all the time, which makes it harder to focus and concentrate on things. It can come as part of the package with other eye conditions or on its own, and it has different levels of severity in different people. So it’s a very varied condition. For a detailed explanation of how it affects me personally, check out my Living With Nystagmus post and video.

To mark the day, I’ve been tagged to answer some questions on nystagmus by Youtuber Jessica King (Jessylrk) – thank you Jessica! And if you have nystagmus too, then I tag you to do this as well. So here are my answers to the questions, and I hope you find them interesting. You can also watch a video of my responses as well.

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How I See (RNIB #HowISee Campaign)

One of the common misconceptions about those of us with visual impairments is that we have no sight at all. It’s as if some people think eyesight is on or off, like flicking a light switch. I’ve had people assume this about me in the past, and have even had people telling others that I’m blind, because they don’t know how to explain it properly.

But the fact is that 93% of people who are registered partially sighted or blind can see something. Every single visually impaired person sees the world in their own unique way, some better than others. It’s a huge spectrum. So don’t assume that a visually impaired person cannot see at all, because 93% of the time you’ll be wrong.

The RNIB are spreading awareness of this simple fact using their #HowISee campaign. They have been asking people to make short videos about how they see, and this is my contribution. It’s had a big reaction on Twitter and Facebook already, so please do feel free to share it and help spread the message.

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Speaking at the Nystagmus Network Open Day

On Saturday, I attended the Nystagmus Network‘s Open Day in Birmingham, the first time I’ve ever been to an event of this nature. The only time I’ve previously met a group who share one of my eye conditions was after Sight Village last year, when I got together with a handful of people with aniridia in a coffee shop. And that was wonderful, but this weekend’s event was on a much bigger scale. This time, I was going to a big conference for people with nystagmus with hundreds of people in attendance. And I was very much looking forward to.

However, I was also nervous, because I had been invited to be one of the speakers – making this the first time I would ever give a talk in public about myself. I wrote in my last post about how this came about, and how I prepared for it. So now I want to tell you about the day itself and how it went. You can also see a vlog from the weekend on my Youtube channel.

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Preparing For My First Public Talk

This weekend I was invited to attend the Nystagmus Network Open Day in Birmingham. Although I’ve been to things like Sight Village before, where I got to meet a handful of people with aniridia, I’ve never been to a large, dedicated conference for people with the same eye condition to network and find out information. So that in itself was going to be interesting.

But I wasn’t just a regular attendee – I was going to be one of the speakers! So that meant doing another first – publicly talking about myself and my life. This was naturally a daunting prospect, but exciting too. So I agreed to give it a go, it was worth a try.

And I combined this with yet another first – recording a proper travel vlog, the pilot episode of “Glen Cam”! I didn’t film inside the event, but I recorded myself before and after. I’m currently editing it all together, so you’ll be able to see that on my Youtube channel very soon.

But I wanted to write in detail about my experience as well, which I’m going to split over a couple of posts so it doesn’t get too long. I’m then going to publish a written article version of my speech here, and a video version on my Youtube channel, so you can see what I said, and maybe it will give you some inspiration and reassurance too. So I’ve got quite a bit to share!

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50 Random Facts About Me

This is an idea I’ve seen elsewhere that I thought might be fun to do, so you can find out a bit more about me. A few of these facts you’ll know from elsewhere in my blog, but most I’ve never mentioned here before.

Since posting this, I’ve also made a video, which contains some of the same information as this post, but also some different facts as well, so do check it out:

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VIP Tag

While looking around Youtube channels and blogs by other visually impaired people, I’ve seen the VIP (Visually Impaired Person) Tag come up numerous times. And thanks to the wonderful Emily Davison from Fashioneyesta, I was finally tagged to do it.

It was originally created by Chatty Chelby, and it’s an interesting way of telling the community about yourself. So I’ve put my answers together in this post, and have also produced a video version too. I hope you enjoy my responses!

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