The new year has brought with it a terrifying prospect for young Ashley Gover.
The 11-year-old is battling with Leber’s optic neuropathy, a condition that slowly diminishes sight, and he is now registered severely visually impaired and has lost his central vision.
Diagnosed in the summer, his vision is still deteriorating, and the brave John of Gaunt School pupil is now taking steps to cope with a future without his sight.
Ashley, who needs a white stick to walk to school with friends, has started touch typing and Braille lessons as he can no longer see letters on a computer keyboard.
Ashley, of Francis Street in Trowbridge, said: “The blobs that were blocking my vision have got bigger and I can’t see in between them any more. I feel frustrated and I am scared about how much worse it could get.
“I hate the dark now because my sight is almost nothing when the light is bad.”
His tutor Susan Scott said: “We are supporting Ashley in his learning of Braille. We have a weekly sentence we try and unravel using Braille and one of our Year 9 pupils is learning alongside Ashley.
“The pupils have been incredibly supportive. They help him around school and make sure he gets to classes on time.”
Yasmin Andrews, Ashley’s great aunt, is a dispensing optician at Trowbridge Specsavers and has raised awareness of the disease with posters in the store and fundraising; the team has raised £1,600 for equipment to aid Ashley’s sight.
Ashley has already received a bigger TV to play his favourite games on the XBox, an iPhone with vision impairment apps and an iPad Air.
His mum Louise, 34, said: “He is starting to get more independence. He takes photos of the time, menus and price tags and zooms in to read them. We are also getting him a talking clock and talking watch.
“He has always been outgoing, but he has become more withdrawn. I am hoping this year he will take part in new things with other visually impaired people and it will improve his confidence.”
Mrs Gover is due to compete in the Bath Half Marathon in March in aid of research into Leber’s optic neuropathy in the UK.