Sight for sore eyes - Abigail, 7, is reading thanks to CCTV
GETTING a seven-year-old girl to read to her little sister can be up uphill struggle for many parents, but for Melanie Anderson-Pike it was a moment she thought she might never see.
For her daughter Abigail lives with Peter's Anomaly, a rare form of eye dysfunction that means she has next to no useful vision in her right eye and very limited vision in her left. She has no peripheral vision, she can't see in 3D and has no depth of vision. She has cataracts and glaucoma and optical nerve damage. The cornea in her right eye is susceptible to damage and could detach, as could her retinas.
"It's as if her eyes are working against her," says Melanie, from Parkstone. "She has had 10 operations in her little life - the first was when she was 14 days old. She's a very brave, determined little girl, incredibly resilient."
As a result of an appeal, Dorset Blind Association has been able to give Abigail a CCTV reader which magnifies type, making reading much easier.
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And one of the first things she did was read a story to little sister Olivia.
"Serious sight loss will always be a huge challenge for anyone, at any time in their life, but that challenge is especially tough for young children like Abigail," says Jonathan Holyhead, chief executive officer at Dorset Blind Association.
"I am delighted we have been able to help her in such a positive way. As a parent myself, seeing Abigail use the CCTV reader to read to Olivia was a moment I'll certainly treasure for a long time to come."
And Melanie couldn't agree more.
"It was so lovely to see her sit down with her book and the reader and just get on with it," she says. "It was one of those moments I had to go away and have a little cry."
Abigail is the only partially sighted pupil at her school and although she is well supported academically her mum says she struggles socially at times.
"The visually impaired frequently misread social situations because they miss visual cues and can't read facial expressions so it can be very difficult for Abigail. As a society we are not very good at talking about things like this and I think people see her as a risk when she's not, she misses out on party invites and playdates.
"That's why we got in touch with Dorset Blind Association quite early on so that she knows there's a social support network for her when she's a bit older, somewhere she can go as a teenager and mix with other visually impaired youngsters."
Melanie continues: "We focus on the positive and there are so many lovely moments in the things people say and do - the appeal with the New Life Foundation raised more than enough for Abigail's CCTV reader so it will go to help other children in Dorset , which is wonderful."
Dorset Blind Association helps up to 1,000 blind or partially sighted people each month but receives no state funding and relies heavily on donations. To help it continue assisting people like Abigail please call 01202 712869 or visit www.dorsetblind.org.uk or send a donation to 17 Bournemouth Road, Lower Parkstone, Poole, BH14 0EF.
Dorset Blind Association holds its third annual charity run on Sunday, 30th September. With two courses - 10 km and 5 km - both starting and finishing at Boscombe Pier Promenade, entry is only £5 (£10 on the day) to raise funds to support the charity's services to the 5,500 blind and partially sighted people in Dorset.