Hello and thank you for visiting my
My name is Jonathan Abro and, as many of you know, I walk with a White Cane as I am Severely Visually Impaired. I have actually been Registered Blind for over 20 years now. This is due to an as yet untreatable Degenerative Genetic Eye Disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), the biggest cause of blindness in the working age population. RP affects around 1 in 3000 to 4000 people meaning there are around 25000 people in the UK and around 2 million people worldwide suffering from RP.
Since I last wrote about my vision I have had some significant loss and changes in my vision; I no longer have any central vision in my left eye and have less than 5 degrees of central vision in my right eye. I do have some patchy bits of peripheral vision in both eyes which helps me with crossing the road. These changes mean I am now walking with a Long White Cane so walk as many people typically understand of Blind people, swiping my White Cane from side-to-side or tapping from side-to-side to find and avoid obstacles, steps, and to make people aware of me so they either avoid me or, my favourite, offer me some help.
Of course this has made things a lot more challenging and difficult; I can no longer tell what shop I am standing outside if I do not know the street I am on, I can see a bus arriving at the stop most of the time but not what its number is, I do not know who the post is for without the aid of a magnifier, and all sorts of other challenges Annie and I discover as we learn but I still consider myself lucky, fortunate and lucky again! I continue to do so much exciting and amazing stuff, travel to places that I have dreamed about, and learn how to do things despite hurdles in my way. Someone I met and was speaking to said that we all face contractions in our life as we change and get older, mine are just happening a bit too quickly so, to be able to continue doing what I love to, I need to find ways of “expanding my contractions”. I love this thought and it’s what I am doing all the time. Some of the most important ways are that I am using my new White Cane to keep getting out and about, I have learned to touch-type properly (and not looking at the keyboard as I type this :-) and I have learnt to use Assistive Technology on the computer called a Screen Reader and a Screen Magnifier to read everything to me and magnify when I need it. So I still do as much as I ever did, just differently.
I also said “lucky again” as I have Annie in my life who shares my love for travel and adventure, is able to enjoy herself while making sure I am safe, and is simply amazing in so many ways in helping me, caring about me and helping me keep my independence. I am so thankful for all of this and the many more things Annie does that are just too numerous to list!
However, as lucky and fortunate as I am, there are many, many people, children and adults alike, who are struggling in so many ways from RP and that is why it is so important to help fund the research to find a treatment, and dare we hope for, a cure for this horrible disease. To put some context to what I mean I have learnt many horrifying and saddening statistics about Blind and Visually Impaired people, some of the worst being:
- More than two-thirds of Blind and Partially Sighted people are unemployed and the vast majority of those people never work for more than 1 month in their lifetime!
- 9 out of 10 employers rate Blind and Partially Sighted people as either 'difficult' or 'impossible' to employ!
- Blind and Partially Sighted people are up to almost three times more likely to experience depression than people with good vision!
There are many more horrible numbers I could quote but I know this is enough to make us all think about how lucky and fortunate we are if we have managed to avoid or beat becoming a statistic.
Since I last asked and you responded so generously, there has been some fantastic research done and, as some of you have kindly pointed out in the press to me, successes such as the "Bionic Eye" and the Gene Therapy have been very exciting trials to have learn about and will hopefully become a reality to help me and my fellow RP sufferers in the not too distant future.
So, to support our wonderful scientists, and to ask you to help me in my on-going quest to raise funds, Annie and I are going to undertake one of our biggest challenges ever, in June 2016 we are going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro!!! Given my lack of depth perception and having practically no vision in the dark, I know we are in for a tough challenge, especially given that Summit Day starts at around midnight! But we are more determined than ever to succeed in this challenge. We will also be celebrating my 50th birthday(!) on the mountain, making this challenge even more special as this is something we have dreamed of doing but never knowing if it could become a reality.
Our aim is to raise as much as we can for my charity, RP Fighting Blindness, to help the research into a treatment and cure for RP. Who knows, this may be the push to find something really important in our on-going Fight for Sight, provide hope for many, and perhaps even identify my affected gene. How amazing this would be, imagine the help this would bring to children and future generations!
So, please give as generously as you can but know that Every Pound Counts so, whether it’s £2, £20, £200 or £2,000, it is all going to make a difference! Please Donate Online here or, if you would like to donate by cheque, made out to RP Fighting Blindness, please get in touch with me to arrange postal or collection details.
Please also pass my request on to your family, friends, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, business colleagues, corporate mailing lists and anyone else you can so they can also help me in my Fight for Sight.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
Jonathan and Annie
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