I had a thought whilst lying in bed wide awake. I want others to get a sense of what it's like to live with Stargardt's. It's really hard to explain what it is like to lose something that you take for granted and use every second of the day. Then I thought to a chain email that circulated a long time ago, some of you might remember - a passage of a story was sent except the middle letters of the word were jumbled. Once you got to the end of the passage, it said that you had just read the whole story essentially spelled incorrectly, but you were able to read it.
This demonstrates how I read - my blind spot covers the middle of words, so I see the start of the word, possibly the end, and it's all a jumble. Yet I can still read it (it still needs to be in a larger font).
I've put together an example for you, have a go at reading this (beware I threw some tricky words in!):
- Sagdtrart's Dasisee is a tpye of macualr degaeentiorn. It afefcts ynoug polepe, lkie me, and cehagns our levis frveoer. Tnihk aubot tihs, jsut as you are gitnteg uesd to lnviig yuor lfie, fgrniiug out yuor dermas and anirtapsois, tehn rnmldoay you ncoite sthniemog a liltte off in yuor viosin. The nxet tnhig you konw you're bneig tlod you hvae an ibunclrae dsasiee and wlil lsoe yuor shigt.
And just in case you got stuck, here it is written properly:
- Stargardt's Disease is a type of macular degeneration. It affects young people, like me, and changes our lives forever. Think about this, just as you are getting used to living your life, figuring out your dreams and aspirations, then randomly you notice something a little off in your vision. The next thing you know you're being told you have an incurable disease and will lose your sight.
Imagine reading like that all the time, it does get tiring. It's as though the brain has adapted to read in a different way. The image below is of a meme that was circulated and a response was written by the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK, which you can read here. They explain some of the reasons behind how we are capable of reading words with jumbled letters, although we apparently read 11% slower. This makes sense as I have noticed it takes me longer to read.
I'd be really interested for those who aren't vision impaired to share their experience reading this. I hope this gives a little more understanding into how myself and others with SD read.