A man who suddenly went blind has shared his dramatic experience of sight loss with guests at a House of Lords reception.
Talking to an audience of local authority bosses and health professionals, Chorley man Steve Cross, 45, was one of 10 blind and partially sighted people invited to the event hosted by Lord Trefgarne, Lord Low, Lord Holmes and Action for Blind People.
Their role was to share their personal stories, raising awareness of the need for guidance and support when someone is first diagnosed with sight loss.
Steve said: “Imagine being told you’re losing your eye-sight. You walk out of the eye clinic in a panic. Will you be able to continue driving? Will you lose your job? Will you be able to find your way around your own home anymore?
“These are devastating, confidence sapping questions – made worse when there’s no-one to provide help and advice.
“I was asked by Action for Blind People to share my experience with guests, showing that through a service provided by Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, guidance can be made available to help you adjust to the life-changing news that you’re losing your sight.”
Steve, who is now helped by guide dog Nemo, lost his sight 10 years ago with the condition Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).
Action for Blind People was able to assist almost straight away, helping him to adjust and remain positive as he gave up his job as a textile tailor cutter.
After a 20-year career, it was clear that sight loss prevented him safely continuing in his work.
The charity then supported him in claiming benefits. They also arranged for him to talk to other blind and partially sighted people and their families, sharing experiences so that Steve understood that he was not alone.
Thanks to Action for Blind People, Steve is now involved in voluntary roles, speaking to schools and community groups about sight loss, and supporting campaigns to make the streets and public transport more accessible for visually impaired people.