Sherifa has shared her nystagmus story to help raise awareness of the condition and its impact this Nystagmus Awareness Day.
This is Sherifa’s story …
I’ve had congenital nystagmus and Coloboma since birth, which presented its own unique challenges. Living with two eye conditions that I knew nothing about with no history of it in my family or in my genetics, was not easy and explaining it to others was even harder. My childhood was filled with ups and downs, twists and turns and that’s not just from the movement of my eyes!
Initially, I thought my eye conditions were quite common because I saw others wearing glasses. I assumed having an eye condition was “normal”. It was only when I started secondary school that I realised the reality of that wasn’t completely true, I attended a mainstream school where special equipment like magnifiers, large print books and touch typing were rare, and I was the only visually impaired person in my year group using these special adaptations making me stand out from everyone else. Not being able to focus for long periods of time would really get me down, it would take me three times as long to do the same task as someone who could do it in five minutes! Nevertheless, I embraced my quirks with humour, always ready with a joke or two. 😉
It was in Years 9-11 when my life trajectory began to shift. As my peers and I prepared for GCSEs I started thinking about what I wanted to study in college and how to tackle the challenges ahead. I ended up choosing a coursework only business course.
As a teenager, not being allowed to drive was another bump in the road I faced. Whilst my peers were passing their driving exams and excitedly buying new cars, I found myself struggling to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to do the same. Although it was difficult to accept, I eventually came to understand that driving wasn’t the be all end all.
After successfully completing my college education, I went on to pursue a degree in Business Management. Although university was my first big challenge as an adult with tons of sleepless nights, anxiety and a few tears, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours. Following my passion for making a positive change in society, I have dedicated myself to a professional career as a Disability Access Consultant, where I advise organisations on how they can enhance their accessibility features, particularly for people with visual impairments.
My life journey has been filled with numerous obstacles, but my determination and resilience have always prevailed. I utilise my experiences to empower and encourage those who have faced similar challenges. As an adult my nystagmus has gotten a lot less noticeable and thanks to the expert treatment and support I receive at Moorfields Eye Hospital, I have learnt how to manage my nystagmus effectively and live a fulfilling life! I love my uniqueness and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
“With challenge, comes growth, wisdom and power!”