Freddie’s Story

(adult, unilateral cataract)

I was born with a cataract in my left eye, I think its proper name is a congenital cataract. I remember being carted around London with my parents to loads of ophthalmologists when I was about 4 years old. There were millions of tests, which included pictures of animals, I remember the zebra. Anyway, my parents decided it would be best to try and ‘train’ my left eye by making me wear eye-patches on my ‘good’ eye. I remember trying to read my story books but it was impossible as everything looked blurred, so i use to cheat and lift the edge of my eye-patch up and read with my good eye. It seems silly but wearing an eye-patch for one hour a day seemed like a life sentence, I wish I had persisted.

The closest thing I can describe what having a cataract is like, is like looking under water. I can see colours and shapes but everything is out of focus, and of course if its far away I can’t see anything at all. I’m not completely blind, i can still sense things but get me to read a road sign with it and i’m no use!

Twenty years have passed and I now live in London, and I have always had my cataract. It was only last week that I decided to go and have an eye check-up to see if there were any developments. It turns out that there wouldn’t be any real point in operating as my sight would probably remain the same. Apparently when you’re young, your brain gets used to your eyes and sight, so being 24 they figured that my brain wouldn’t be able to adapt to my ‘new’ eye. I wish I kept that eye patch on!

I remember that my eye would often wander off when i’m sleepy or exhausted from running. I was horrified when i first clocked it looking the other way! I mean I looked like a chameleon! Still I have grown to love it; it is part of me.

If I had to tell any kid who was born with one of these cataracts and was worrying about not having 100% vision, I would say, ‘don’t worry – you never miss what you never had’. I live a completely fulfilling life with it and it never stops me from doing new and exciting things. Plus, my girlfriend thinks it’s cool.