Things Brits would love to see one last time before losing their sight
New research by Guide Dogs has revealed that seeing a loved one’s face is the number one thing people would most like to see if they were faced with losing their sight.
Viewing their favourite artwork, taking in wildlife during a nature walk and going to a festival, also feature in the top 20 things people would put on their ‘visual memory lists’, with almost three in four (72%) Brits revealing they would create a tick list of experiences to enjoy.
It comes as statistics show that every day 250 people in the UK start to lose their sight: equivalent to one person every six minutes, and Guide Dogs is raising awareness of how the impact doesn’t prevent people from living a full, independent life.
Brit’s top 20 visual memory list
Seeing a loved one’s face (50%)
Watching the sunset (45%)
Watching the sunrise (40%)
Seeing your partner or child’s smile (39%)
Taking in wildlife and nature during a walk (38%)
Travelling e.g. visiting other countries (37%)
Looking at flowers (32%)
Watching your favourite film (32%)
Reading your favourite book (26%)
Taking photographs (22%)
Seeing a musical/theatre show (21%)
Watching fireworks (20%)
Seeing a seventh wonder of the world (19%)
Playing with your dog (18%)
Watching a football game (17%)
Seeing a city skyline (17%)
Taking your dog for a walk (17%)
Climbing a mountain (14%)
Viewing your favourite artwork (13%)
Going to a festival (11%)
The research found that, for three-fifths (60%) of Brits, adventure and adrenalin are key – with two-thirds (66%) saying they’d want to see as many countries as possible, and take part in activities such as skydiving, scuba diving and white-water rafting (19%).
However, four in five Brits (81%) would prioritise creating memories with their family or friends to fondly remember. The majority (87%) would miss seeing the little everyday things the most if they were to experience sight loss.
Reflecting if they were to lose their sight, nearly half (46%) of Brits said they would feel isolated and 43% said they’d be worried about asking others for help and support, despite this a large 77% stated they’d be determined to live their life to the fullest.
In fact, four in five (80%) respondents living with sight loss said they had continued to do and enjoy the things they love after experiencing sight loss.
65-year-old guide dog owner Tiggi Trethowan from Somerset has limited eyesight left following a diagnosis of glaucoma. Alongside SAS TV star Billy Billingham, we surprised Tiggi at Go Ape Bracknell, by giving her the chance to complete an experience from her visual memory list. Billy supported Tiggi around the Treetop Challenge where she experienced canopy-high tree-to-tree crossings, free-fall Tarzan swings and epic zip-lining.
Guide dog owner Tiggi Trethowan explains, “I am obsessed with adventure and prior to my sight loss I was used to travelling the world as part of a busy job as a television producer. However, a very rare form of glaucoma meant I lost sight in my right eye within two weeks of diagnosis, and I currently have about 6% of my sight in my left eye.
After a tough period, I was paired with a wonderful black Labrador guide dog Jackie and I’m now trying to make visual memories of places that matter to me before I lose my sight completely. Alongside a close friend (and guide) who travels with me, I’ve ticked off swimming with turtles in the Galapagos, visiting Antarctica to study humpback whales and have been able to revisit a beach in Cornwall where I have many childhood memories. Next, I want to try flying in a helicopter, even though I don’t know what I’ll be able to see. I’ll continue my adventures because I don’t want my sight loss to define me.
Regardless of sight loss, those with visual impairments can still enjoy activities and have rich experiences, and these may even be deeper than those of sighted people. For example, those with visual impairments may experience art they cannot fully see, through descriptions by a sighted person and guided hand movements in front of the pieces, to allow understanding of shapes and forms used.
Alex Pepper, Head of Accessibility from Guide Dogs said, “Research shows that one in five (20%) Brits will live with significant sight loss in their lifetime. While losing your sight can be daunting, it doesn’t mean your life is over - guide dog owners like Tiggi show that you can still live a happy, fulfilled life – whatever that may mean for you. Those with sight loss are still able to achieve their memory list items, whether it be running a marathon or reading a book, they might just do things a bit differently. Thanks to generous public donations, we’re able to continue to support those impacted by visual impairments to enable people with sight loss live their life independently.”
Guide Dogs provide a sighted guide service to support people with sight loss live the life they choose. Find out more on how to become a Guide Dogs ‘My Sighted Guide’ volunteer here.
To celebrate International Happiness Day (20th March 2023), here’s five ways that volunteering at Guide Dogs can spread happiness for yourself and others.
Lindsey is an active member of her local Guide Dogs fundraising group in Shrewsbury. Not only does she fundraise for them, manning stands and collection boxes at weekends, but she also campaigns and publicly speaks on behalf of Guide Dogs.
A few years ago, Lindsey wouldn’t have thought this was possible.
Guide dog owner Samantha Leftwich and her mum Linda, both from Essex, turned an unfortunate situation into a positive bonding experience this October, running their own half marathon to raise money for Guide Dogs.