Sarah Martin skydives for Stargardt

Moorfields Eye Charity come across many amazing and brave stories from staff, patients, family and friends. We love to share your stories with our readers who may be going through the same thing. Sarah Martin wanted to share her story and raise awareness for Stargardt, a disease she was diagnosed with in 2010, at the age of 28. This year she will be taking on a skydive in September to support Moorfields and will be raising money through her JustGiving page, which you can visit by clicking here (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarah-martin70). Below, Sarah shares her story and explains how Moorfields gave her hope:

"Sitting alone in the waiting room waiting for my turn to see the consultant I sat thinking about which type of glasses I'd choose, what colour would I pick? Which style would suit me? I'd never had to wear glasses, but something told me this time I would need them.

You see, I’d started to struggle in the evenings whilst driving, signs seemed to be more difficult to read and the dull light was really irritating.

"Your eyes are precious" my Gran told me as she persuaded me to get my eyes checked out. Off I went to the opticians and the ophthalmologist looked confused, they asked to take pictures of my eyes, "OK" I said, thinking nothing more of it. I was then told I needed to go to the Royal Derby Eye Clinic as an urgent referral. Still thinking it would be nothing, off I went. A few tests later and here I am waiting for the results contemplating black or blue glasses.

As the results come back, I hear "you have stargardts disease Miss Maxted" (I'm now a Martin, yes he still married me regardless, he's a keeper this one).

"There's no cure", "we can't allow you to drive home", "I'm sorry".

Sarah Martin and her son

In that moment there was a blur, no sound, just emptiness, my whole world upside down. I'm not too sure what happened next but before I knew it I was being driven home by my sister, I’d been told I was partially sighted and had been discharged from the hospital. I was facing the idea of going blind with a 6 month old baby.

I was so frightened, would I see my baby grow up? Activities, sports day, football matches? Words can't explain the fear I felt.

I pretty much muddled along for the next couple of years not really knowing what to expect. I started to notice my sight was getting worse, so off I went back to the consultant who confirmed my fears, I was now classed as severely sight impaired/blind. I was devastated.

Knowing nothing about stargardts, other than what I read on the internet, I joined a support group on Facebook where I got talking to a lovely young lady called Katie, I didn’t feel so alone talking to her. Katie told me about her experience with Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, and I begged my GP to refer me.

On 25 May 2018 I finally visited Moorfields for the first time where I met the lovely Dr Mariya Moosajee. I have suffered with this disease since 2010 and only then, when I spoke to Mariya, did I feel like there was hope. There are people working on a cure and I truly believe there will be something out there to help people like myself eventually.

I am now taking part in the 100,000 Genomes Project and for the first time in eight years, I am hopeful that one day there will be a cure. I am grateful that I am able to take part in the research of this disease.

Each day is a struggle but I have my beautiful family and fantastic friends who are so supportive. I got to see my son's first sports day and I’ve seen him score countless goals in the many, many football matches I've watched (even though I have to kit him out in bright boots so I can find him on the pitch) but who cares? I see him in my own way, and for that, I am so very grateful. I have a feeling things can only get better, especially with the support I have."

Thank you for reading my story. 

Sarah Martin

Please support Sarah as she takes on the skydive for Moorfields next month by visiting her Just Giving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarah-martin70