Kim, a 55-year-old woman, shares her story of living with various eye conditions that have caused significant sight loss. Her journey began when she was 30 years old and noticed a black spot in her vision, which progressively grew, leading to complete blindness. After receiving steroids to combat inflammation, some of her vision was restored, but she was left with no central vision and heavily scarred peripheral vision.
Kim’s eye consultant later discovered a rare condition called optic ocular histoplasmosis, caused by a viral spore typically found in tropical countries like Africa, America, and India. The theory is that Kim’s 17-year-old pregnant mother, experiencing severe nausea, might have ingested charcoal containing the spore. This eventually led to Kim’s sight loss and various illnesses, resulting in an instantaneous and life-changing event.
Prior to losing her sight, Kim was actively involved in the media, had four children, and was working on writing books. However, her life drastically changed overnight, leaving her feeling trapped in a world of darkness. Kim’s young children adapted quickly and provided essential support, helping her cope with daily activities and offering emotional encouragement.
Kim emphasises the importance of having a strong support network during such challenging times and highlights the preconceptions and misconceptions she faces as a visually impaired person. She refuses to see herself as “disabled” but rather “impaired,” finding alternative ways to perform tasks and pursue her passion for writing with the help of talking software.
In her struggle to adapt to a sighted world, Kim encountered numerous obstacles, such as inaccessible spaces and documents, and she urges for a more inclusive society that accommodates diverse abilities.
Over the years, Kim faced isolation as her children left home, but she found solace and confidence through a Tai Chi class organised by the Henshaws organisation. This experience helped her make new friends, explore the possibilities despite her sight loss, and regain her sense of purpose and independence.
Kim encourages others with visual impairment to seek support from charities like Henshaws, which helped her rediscover life beyond her expectations. She believes that with the right resources and assistance, visually impaired individuals can lead fulfilling lives and overcome the challenges posed by the sighted world.
Kim has recently released a cookbook for visually impaired individuals, more information can be found by clicking here.