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Shamila from Durban, South Africa

Shamila’s Story – Received 16 February, 2009

My name is Shamila Surjoo and I live in Durban, South Africa.

This is my story. I am 40 years old now and only a week ago I learnt that I had Stargardts disease after a check up with the ophthalmologist. All those years since I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration (which did not make much sense as this condition was old age related).

I feel hurt that it is only now after 32 years that I am able to read up more information on a condition that I really have. Yes, I have made that appointment with a Low Vision Specialist. I am positive that there may be some relief for me. It is indeed frustrating not being able to read on my own.

I have been to a School for the Blind(Arthur Blaxall School). Enrolled to study Physiotherapy at University but did not make it due to the poor vision. I have found my vision deteriorating over the years – I am not able to read print material – doctor confirmed that I was legally blind.

I am employed at a Non Governmental Organisation and am the Public Relations Officer and Fund Raising Manager. I started some 20 years ago and moved from a Secretary to my present post. I have overcome many challenges but have always chose to look on the bright side of life.

I have the most supportive family – my husband who is also visually impaired understands me the best. My children – my daughter, aged 20 and son, aged 16 – are always there for me.

I have come to realize that life is full of challenges, but it is up to us to overcome this. Stay positive and never lose hope and faith in God.

I would love to communicate with others who have similar conditions.