Isabelle smiles for the camera.

Isabelle’s story

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This is Isabelle’s story …

I was diagnosed with congenital nystagmus as a baby. My mum didn’t know anyone with the condition and had never heard of it, as most people haven’t. We didn’t learn that I have ocular albinism, that causes my nystagmus, until I was around 14. We discovered this through doing some tests in a hospital in London.
I wore glasses from 6 months old until I was 13, but came to the conclusion that glasses didn’t help at all.

Having nystagmus has impacted my school life significantly, but never stopped me from achieving my goals. Going to mainstream school, as most children do with nystagmus, it can be difficult navigating being “different” from other children, especially when those differences are noticeable. However, I found just being confident and proud of my visual impairment helps so much. I am now at university, which some days I didn’t think would be possible, but if you can believe it you can achieve it!

One of the biggest impacts nystagmus has had on my life so far is not being able to drive. I’m only 19, but when I turned 17 it was hard watching all my friends pass their driving tests and start driving. I felt like the only person that wasn’t allowed to drive. Over time, I realised that being the passenger has so many perks and I’m definitely not alone.

Throughout my life with nystagmus, I’ve had many people of all ages make comments or ask questions. When I was younger I would get upset when another child said something that maybe wasn’t worded very nicely. I’ve come to realise that it’s just a lack of knowledge, as nystagmus isn’t a well-known condition throughout society. It can be awkward, upsetting and triggering when someone points it out or makes a disrespectful comment, but simply describing my disability to them is always the best way to help someone understand.

Having nystagmus was my biggest insecurity through my childhood. It was quite noticeable, especially through the way I have to tilt my head to look at people. People not knowing what it is can be a struggle, as I can do things differently from others to make it easier for me with my impairment. However, I’ve grown to love it and be proud of the way I navigate life alongside it.

Being visually impaired has impacted me in even the smallest of ways that we had never thought of when I was younger. Things like going to concerts and not being able to see the performer, being unable to read the whiteboards in school, getting lost in busy places, not waving back to people on the street as I didn’t see them, the list is endless. However, I’m grateful for the things I can see and the lessons it has taught me; everything will be okay in the end. Just because I have nystagmus, doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my goals.

It has caused many obstacles and I’m sure it will cause many more, but I know that I’ll get through them with the support of my family, friends and charities such as Nystagmus Network. My eyes are beautiful and so are yours!

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