In this video Chich Hewitt shares his personal journey of dealing with sight loss caused by a condition called Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). Chich was born in South Africa in 1945 and had 20/20 vision until 2009 when he began experiencing vision problems.
Chich’s sight loss journey started with noticing a floater in his left eye in May 2008, and by January 2009, he had lost much of the eyesight in that eye. The right eye also deteriorated rapidly, and he was diagnosed with LHON by a physician after a DNA blood test. Despite being registered blind, Chich retained some peripheral vision, which he sometimes struggled to explain to others.
The impact of sight loss affected Chich’s life and work significantly. As a Church of England minister, he had to adapt to new ways of conducting services, utilising audio devices and support from others to read liturgy and manage administrative tasks. Chich’s family, especially his wife Jill and two daughters, were concerned about his condition’s hereditary nature, but they learned that it would not be passed on to future generations.
Chich emphasised the challenges of not being able to drive and initially feeling lost after being registered blind. However, he found solutions through various organisations that provided equipment and support, such as access to work programmes. Chich’s positive attitude and adaptive approach helped him cope with sight loss, utilising technology like audio recorders and white canes to maintain independence.
Offering advice to those recently diagnosed with sight loss, Chich emphasised the availability of modern technology and family support as essential factors for coping with the challenges. He encouraged people to find what works best for them and not to shy away from challenges or activities that they enjoy.
Overall, Chich’s story is one of resilience and adaptability, showcasing the possibilities for living a fulfilling life despite the challenges posed by sight loss.