Mike becomes an ambassador for RNIB

HEALTH Mike Andrews from Portchester is an eye health ambassador for Royal National Institute of Blind People.    Picture: Steve Reid (112866-419)
HEALTH Mike Andrews from Portchester is an eye health ambassador for Royal National Institute of Blind People. Picture: Steve Reid (112866-419)
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Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170626-1)

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WHEN Mike Andrews was putting his bins out it was one more house-hold chore to tick off.

But suddenly, in a terrifying moment, he couldn’t see.

Now Mr Andrews, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1989 and developed diabetic retinopathy three years ago, is an ambassador for the RNIB and hopes to help others like him.

His eye condition causes both his eyes to bleed and he’s developed double vision.

The 59-year-old of Linden Lea, Portchester, said: ‘It happened out of the blue, it was like I was in a different world. I was taking a bin outside and all of a sudden I bent over and my eye went black.

‘It was like a Z across it and as I moved the black Z moved. They had warned me that because of the diabetes I was at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy but it was still a shock.’

As a former print technician, his eyesight was central to his career.

Mr Andrews continued to work but he started to notice he couldn’t see colours so vividly and he was forced to give up his job.

‘It started deteriorating quite rapidly about three years ago,’ he said.

‘I had to give up driving. I knew there was a problem. It was only going to get worse.’

Now he is due to have an operation to correct his problem next month.

Mr Andrews recently attended a parliamentary reception at the Houses of Parliament, as one of the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s new eye health ambassadors.

About two million people in England are living with sight loss. Without preventative action it is predicted to almost double by 2050.

Mr Andrews hopes his new role will help other people with sight loss and stop people losing their sight unnecessarily.

He said: ‘I want to raise more awareness. There are so many people who have got no benefits and no help.

‘Our job is to get the strategic messages across to the people who make the decisions, like the health chiefs.

‘Only by getting involved and telling them about my experiences, might they understand.

‘I have never been totally healthy. But we all think we are invincible and carry on eating and drinking as we do. I am probably a victim of my own circumstances.

‘I don’t know what the future holds but there are lots of people worse off than me.

‘People are responsible for their own healthcare. If people are given eye appointments then they must go to them.’