JASON BASTABLE has been registered blind now for six years – yet the fact his eyesight was slowly failing came as a shock to him.
He said: “Six and a half years ago my daughter went for an eye test and I went with her as she was quite nervous.
“I was off work that afternoon and Specsavers in Farnham had a space, so I said I’d get my eyes tested too as I hadn’t had them tested for years.
“I looked into a machine and had to push a button when I saw a balloon, and the results were really bad – the staff even wondered whether the machine was properly turned on.
“We did the test again and it was bad. I had never heard of the word ‘glaucoma’ then.
“I know now it’s treatable and manageable, but the trouble is that when they found out about it I had already had 40 years’ of damage to my eyes and the fibres in the back of my eyes. They advised me to go to Frimley Hospital straight away.
“Pressures over 15 are regarded as critical, and my results were up in the 50s.
“I was in a lot of trouble but I had never realised at the time.
“I had to have injections and I had a plan given to me that would not repair the damage, but manage it.
“Since then I have had three operations on each eye.
“We are hoping now it’s under control and we’re hopeful I can keep the 11 per cent vision I have now for the next ten or 15 years.
“I have had so much rapid loss because I didn’t even know I had the disease, and that is no-one’s fault but my own, as I should have had an eye test earlier.
“A lot of people take their eyesight for granted – they don’t think they have a problem so wonder why they should have an eye test.
“It’s only now, when I cover up each eye, that I realise how bad my eyesight is.
“They explained to me the brain is such a fantastic tool that as I was used to looking at things, and knew what they looked like, the brain filled in the gaps my eyes didn’t necessarily see.
“That’s why they call glaucoma the silent killer, as once you realise you have it, it’s too late – the damage has already been done.
“I would urge everyone to have regular checks.”
Jason on his life
“I worked as a butcher in Farnham before my eyesight started to deteriorate.
“I worked at Smallbones in The Borough.
“I met my partner and started a family and we have stayed in Farnham – why would we want to live anywhere else?”
Jason on golf
“I have 11 per cent vision. In blind golf, there are three categories – B1 is for nought to five per cent vision, B2 for five to ten per cent, and B3 for ten to 15 per cent.
“I’m on the verge of B2 and B3.
“My vision is a bit of a blur close up, and when I look down I see three balls. My caddie is a guide as well and he sets me behind the ball and I take my alignment from that.
“On the greens, I go to the flag and he goes to the ball. If we’re quite far away he will make a sound, or clap, and I will walk towards him and pace out the distance, so I know roughly how far it is.
“He will tell me whether it’s uphill and downhill, how much break there is, and I have to trust my pace and strike the ball accordingly.
“We practice that a lot – I get to know if I’m hitting the ball only four or five paces, I need to take the putter back a certain distance.
“We practice the short game a lot – it’s all about touch and feel.
“To be fair, we are getting there – we save a lot of shots with it, it’s my long game which I need to do more work on.
“Like most golfers, I try to smash it – and when I do that, the ball goes off in all directions.”
Jason: Why I play
“I didn’t play much golf before I had trouble with my sight – I’d have the odd knockaround with my brother on a Sunday afternoon, just for fun, in my teenage years.
“When I was signed off – I can’t work because I’m registered blind – I started hitting balls on the range.
“Because I had so much time on my hands, it filled some of my spare time and gave me a purpose.
“Sight for Surrey put me in touch with the England and Wales blind golf guys and I realised there were a lot of blind people around who enjoyed golf.
“Meeting up and playing with them has been fantastic.
“Golf doesn’t rule my life now but I really love it. It gives me a purpose and still being a proud person I want to test myself and achieve things.
“I have grandchildren now and I want them to be proud.
“I can’t do a lot of other normal things, but this is something I can do and hopefully they’ll be proud of me.”