Sight loss is one of the biggest causes of disability in the UK. Through the dramatic and often harrowing stories of people undergoing surgery and treatment to save their sight and the experiences of those who are blind or partially sighted, Channel 4 launches a season of programmes examining the implications of losing your sight, the hurdles you may face without sight and the challenges of living in a society geared mainly to the sighted.
Blinded is a three part series combining powerful human stories with cutting edge science in its look at the fight for sight. With unprecedented access to one of the world's leading eye hospitals, Moorfields in London, Blinded follows doctors and patients in their battles against disease, accident, inherited conditions and old age.
The first programme focuses on the stories of three people each facing a different sight problem, as they undergo treatment and deal with the emotional side of their disabilities.
David Brown was living with his family in Saudi Arabia when he became the victim of a horrendous bomb attack. His left eye was injured beyond repair and his right badly damaged, leaving him blind to everything but vague changes in light and shade. His right hand was also lost.
Blinded follows David to Moorfields hospital, where consultants try to discover whether he has a chance of recovering any of his sight. If his optic nerve is intact, there is a possibility his sight could improve with time, however his eye still contains a lot of shrapnel, and this prospect begins to look unlikely in the near future.
Understandably, David is both frustrated and devastated by his condition. "If you are born blind and you've never had sight, you learn to adapt to the environment as though it was the most natural thing in the world. But I know what sight is about. I had 20-20 vision for 32 years and now I don't have it, instantly." He describes his feelings at not being able to see his baby daughter grow up, and says he would willingly lose his one remaining hand if it meant his sight could be partially restored.
David's wife Jo patiently helps him come to terms with the new surroundings back in England. "I don't want to be David's eyes. I want to teach David to be independent, as independent as he can as quickly as he can."
Eleven-year-old Toby Ott was born without eyes, due to a rare condition that affects about 15 babies a year, anocphalmia. He has never known what is it to see, and so takes blindness completely in his stride, saying "I never think about it really. I just have my own little life". Since he was a baby, Toby has been attending Moorfields to be fitted with artificial eyes, which are changed regularly to cope with the growth of his eye sockets.
Toby seems happily unaware that he is any different or less fortunate than other children his age. He proudly boasts about his typing skills and shows off his latest piano composition, entitled 'Down to Hell'. Toby's parents help him to take his condition with a pinch of salt as his father jokes "Don't pick your nose or your eyes will fall out!"
The biggest eye hospital in the West, Moorfields treats over 200,000 people a year, many of them last stop referrals from all over the UK. Eighty-year-old Helen Elvin has been diagnosed with eye cancer and has lost the sight of one eye. After discussing the options with expert surgeon John Hungerford at Moorfields, they decide the best option is to remove the eye completely and replace it with a prosthetic one to stop the cancer from spreading. In spite of her age, Helen is remarkably optimistic about the surgery: "I think my family's more worried about it than I am, you know. But I'm about 21 inside. 80 on the outside, 21 on the inside."
Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)
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