A GRATEFUL mum and daughter who suffer from a rare eye condition have praised fundraisers for a generous donation towards the ongoing cost of specially tinted glasses that have “transformed” their lives.
Hartlepool mum Chantal Robey and her eight-year-old daughter Megan both have Irlen syndrome, a visual perception problem which affected their ability to judge distances, reading, writing and ability to lead a normal life.
The genetic syndrome is made worse by lighting and brightness and the only way to treat it is for the pair to wear specially tinted glasses or contact lenses, which are not available on the NHS.
The glasses have transformed their life but Chantal, 38, is faced with an annual prescription bill of around £1,200.
Now life has been made a little easier thanks to Hartlepool Round Table’s generous £425 donation towards the cost of the glasses and lenses, which come from America.
Chantal used to suffer from photosensitive epileptic fits and absences before she had the lenses fitted and said she avoided flashing and bright lights for 10 years before she was finally diagnosed.
Single mum Chantal, who lives in The Green, in Greatham Village, said: “I couldn’t go out in bright sunshine and would avoid going to the cinema, the theatre and couldn’t drive.
“It affects your perception of space and I found it quite difficult just walking around, especially when I was pregnant.
“Then the children came along and you can’t just stay in with children, you have to get out and about so it had to be dealt with.”
Chantal, who is originally from the Owton Manor area, spent time living in Ipswich and was made aware of the Irlen Centre, in Bury St Edmunds where she sought treatment and was finally diagnosed in 2008.
That led to Megan being diagnosed in 2009 after her mum noticed she was forever bumping into things and would often have bruises because she couldn’t judge distances.
Chantal said: “The glasses and contact lenses have transformed our life as a family, it is like getting new eyes.
“Megan would avoid reading as much as she could, but since she has had the glasses she has read all of the Harry Potter books and now loves reading.
“Megan is such a bright girl, but having these glasses has really brought out her talents,” added Chantal, also mum to five-year-old Alexander and both children attend Greatham Primary School.
Megan said: “I won’t get my head out of a book until I have finished reading the chapter.”
Over the last year Chantal has held a fundraising swim-a-thon at Springs raising £1,000, taken collection buckets round the village and held a Halloween fair raising £200.
Chantal, who is looking to start driving lessons again, said she was “over the moon” with the Round Table donation.
She added: “I am so grateful with the donation and it will really help a lot.”
Members of Hartlepool Round Table were made aware of the syndrome after honorary events officer Ian Griffiths spotted it on Facebook who then put together a presentation.
Ian said: “I was happy to put it to the Round Table members and it was fully supported.”
Allan Wise, chairman of Hartlepool Round Table this year, added: “I am over the moon that we are able to help Chantal and Megan.
“This is what we are all about and we were very happy to lend our support.”