A 13-year-old boy paints a picture of insensitivity at school to
his vision problems.
I am 13 years old and this article is about a life-changing
experience I am going through. I want to explain how teachers have
treated me. So here I go.
I’ve had three major operations on my right eye. This is
because my retina detached. At my age this, I was told, is rarer
than winning the lottery. I’d already lost 98 per cent vision
in my left eye when I was 10, also from a retinal detachment. I
managed to keep positive as I still had my right vision. However,
four years later a shadow appeared. I told my mum and she told me
she thought it was a retinal detachment. Later, at
Moorfield’s eye hospital, they confirmed my worst fear: I
could go blind.
My first operation involved putting a buckle around my eye. I
wasn’t able to go out for six weeks. It was a nightmare. Then
I got another tear on my retina. I had to have yet another op to
remove the buckle and this time they used silicone oil to push the
retina in place. I had to stay in one position, keep my head facing
the floor and sleep with a headrest for 14 days.
When I went back to school after the summer there were awkward
questions. Before the summer, most kids at school didn’t even
know I had vision issues. I did loads of sport, I didn’t have
trouble with seeing the board in class, it was as if I could see
the same as most other kids. But after I came back things were
different. The response of the teachers was very important since I
wanted my situation kept as low key as possible. However, most of
them either forgot about it and needed constant reminding or they
made it really obvious that I was disadvantaged. It got to the
point where everyone in the class knew about it. It made me feel so
exposed when I really wanted to blend in.
I don’t feel the teachers empathised with me. The special
education team told my mother (they hardly spoke to me) what
equipment was available, but didn’t ask what I needed as a
person. They didn’t think about how to help me avoid
isolation, or realised that I was mainly worrying about how I would
handle upset feelings, and how I would deal with the fear of going