When I was around 8 years old, my family realised I couldn’t see well, but didn’t think it was anything serious. I was just diagnosed as being short-sighted. However, there were signs that I had an eye condition. For example, I had accidentally stepped on a newborn kitten, severely injuring it.
It was only in my 50s when my optician discovered I was more than just short-sighted. I went to the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) for a thorough check, and discovered I was suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) – Central Vision Loss. This would eventually make me lose my eye sight completely, and nothing could be done to cure it as it’s genetic.
My doctor had been advising me to use a white cane, but I was embarrassed and stubborn against it, as I still had a little vision. However, my eye sight deteriorated with each doctor visit. I began falling and breaking my bones, and had to resign from my job when I couldn’t see even the cursor on my computer screen. I also had to endure unkind remarks from public members when I accidentally knocked into them. One unforgettable occasion was when I went out alone, and stepped on a man’s slipper as I didn't see him. I apologised, but that didn’t dissipate his anger. He continued hurling vulgarities at me even when I had left to walk in another direction. I became even more afraid to go out, and needed someone to accompany me.
Thus, I finally relented and contacted Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd (GDS) for rehabilitation. GDS’ training is very in-depth, and has given me confidence and skills to go out alone, returning my independence, freedom and safety. I am on the wait list for a guide dog. I wish to be paired with one before I completely lose my sight. Thank you to the kind people who have been supporting GDS and our community. Being paired with a guide dog will greatly increase my safety and efficiency in accomplishing my goals, and offer me companionship in a world of darkness.
I am not letting my visual impairment stop me from doing what I want, and to live actively and healthy. I am working towards returning to the workforce and doing community work. My name is Annie Mok. Please help to empower me further by donating to the International Guide Dog Day (IGDD) Campaign by 30 Jun 2019 here: www.giving.sg/gds/igdd2019, so I can receive my guide dog, and more people like me can receive help to live their lives again.