At 23, Ebony has never known life without vision impairment

When she was just two years old and starting to walk, Ebony started running into things. Concerned something might be wrong, her parents sought medical advice and soon after she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that affects the retina and causes severe vision impairment.

Image of a woman crouching beside her black Guide Dog

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Ebony is just one of many Queenslanders who need your help. 

She coped but then her vision deteriorated significantly.

Thankfully, she still had enough sight to experience a relatively normal childhood and get around like most other kids her age. But her world was quickly turned upside down when her vision suddenly deteriorated when she was just 16 years old.

“I was in denial about my sight for a long time and even when my vision got a lot worse, I really denied the fact that I couldn’t see, probably up until I was about 18,” Ebony explained.

Image of a woman crouching beside her black Guide Dog

“I would literally try to pretend that I could see. For a while I got away with it because I had enough sight left to be able to get around, but then when my sight started to decrease more and more, I had to accept it. I knew if I didn’t, it would just make my situation so much harder for me.”

Ebony was left with less than 1% of her vision. Even worse, because she lost so much of her sight, she developed Nystagmus, a condition that causes her eyes to shake, making her constantly feel like she’s on a rollercoaster ride.

When Ebony reached the point where she could no longer pretend she was able to see, she had no choice but to learn to use mobility aids like a white cane to help her get around. As if this wasn’t hard enough to come to terms with, she then had to deal with the hurtful things people would say when she was out in public.

“When I use my cane, it doesn’t make me feel as confident and it really shows,” Ebony said.

“I used to avoid using my cane at any cost but when I lost more sight, I had to use it more, or it became really difficult for me to get around.”

“That’s when I started feeling like the independence and freedom I’d always had before were now missing from my life.”

Like many other young women her age, Ebony loves going out with her family and friends, and has developed a passion for living a healthy and active lifestyle. But unlike other young women, she is forced to rely heavily on others to get to where she needs to go safely.

Ebony needed a Guide Dog to give her the freedom to live her life the way she wanted. 

Image of a woman walking with her cane beside a Guide Dogs Queensland instructor

Ebony and ‘Hollie’ had only been working together for a short time, but when asked just how much her new Guide Dog had changed her life, Ebony said, “She’s changed everything. Just everything.”

“She’s made the biggest impact in a positive way to everything I do. I feel more confident, I feel free, I feel independent, I feel comfortable and I just really enjoy working with her.

From when we’re at home, to when we’re working together, to when we’re in a social setting – just in every aspect of my life she’s improved it in every way.

Thanks to the community for making the partnership between Ebony and ‘Hollie’ possible and ensuring that young Queenslanders just like Ebony on our Guide Dog waiting list will experience brighter futures with a Guide Dog by their side.

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