Stories of Men

Coming to terms with sight loss

Coming to Terms with Sight Loss

Coming to Terms with Sight Loss

This episode of Our Voices introduces Seema, a woman who has struggled with coming to terms with sight loss. She also talks about battling to regain her independence during the lockdown.

Car aficionado

As a child, Seema was a big fan of cars. Her father was a car mechanic and she would roam around his garage and pretend to drive the cars.

 “My passion was being able to drive. I always thought, when I grew up, I’ll have a car, I’ll be able to stop at the petrol station, I’ll go and stop and get some shopping. So I used to roleplay all this sort of stuff when I was about 6, 7, 8.”

Rare eye disease

At the time, Seema had between 25-35% of her vision, which meant that she was largely independent. It was when Seema was 9 years old that her parents decided to take her to see the doctor due to fears that her vision was getting worse. Upon assessment at the eye doctor’s, Seema received some devastating news.

 “He just said, basically, you’re going to go blind. You will go blind. That’s it.” Seema later discovered that the cause of the deterioration of her vision was a rare eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. This is a rare genetic disorder which leads to a loss of cells in the retina. Describing her initial reaction, Seema says “it was quite a shock… quite numbing… I felt that my world had been shattered.”

The best days of her life

Living with a visual impairment meant Seema would need to move from her mainstream school to a school for people who were blind or had sight loss. Making this change turned out to be beneficial for Seema in coming to terms with sight loss. 

Firstly, whereas she had been the victim of bullying at her previous school due to her partial sightedness, she was now accepted as she was surrounded by people who were in a similar situation to herself. She was also able to learn vital skills, including Grade 2 Braille and touch typing.

The downside was that the school was located quite a distance away from where she lived. Yet, overall, her new school provided a very positive experience. “It was a very sheltered environment. It was a very safe place to be. So my best times were at school, we used to have such a laugh, it was wonderful.”

Dealing with denial

However, as an adolescent, Seema found coming to terms with sight loss more difficult in the outside world. “The anger was where it was me thinking: Why me? Why did it happen to me? Why is it I’ve been given this eye condition.” Wishing to deny the reality of her situation, she would sometimes not mention that she had a visual impairment while out with her family and friends.

An inappropriate job

This denial continued into Seema’s early adulthood. But the pretence was only making the situation more difficult for her. It meant that she would take on jobs to which she was not suited, such as working at a fast-food restaurant.

 “I couldn’t use the till and work in the kitchen cos it’d be dangerous. I couldn’t work on the tills because I couldn’t see the tills. So front house basically, cleaning away, tidying things away, sweeping up… which is quite visually stressful as well. But I remember one time I’d chucked someone’s food out. They just went to get something and I just thought they’d finished. I just chucked their food out.” 

The job did not last long. 

Continually losing sight

As Seema got older, she continued losing sight and it took greater levels of energy for her to persist with the pretence of being a sighted person. For many years, she resisted using a cane. But as her vision approached 2%, she knew it would be necessary.

 “I remember the first time I pulled that out and my husband said to me, ‘Try this out in New York, Times Square.’ He said ‘No one knows you here.’ And I used it and it was brilliant. But to use it back in London, it took me a lot longer to actually start using it.”

The final straw

Seema’s difficulty in coming to terms with sight loss meant that she spent more and more time at home. Her loss in vision had made her feel more vulnerable and she had become scared of leaving the house. Ironically, it was the national lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic which encouraged her that she needed to make a change. 

“The thing is, when you have a disability, you have so many restrictions already. When COVID-19 hit, basically, it made life much more difficult for people who are vulnerable and disabled. It exacerbated the situation of people like myself… I was sick and tired.. I just wanted to have my own freedom back.”

Accepting vision loss

Finally accepting her vision loss, Seema decided to call a guide dogs charity and was informed that she would need to improve her skills using the long cane to use a guide dog effectively. This was the motivation Seema required and her skills improved rapidly. Within six weeks, she was able to visit the local shops and take exercise outdoors by herself.

Following this, Seema was able to get the local bus into town and she recounts the first time she was able to have a coffee in her local coffee shop by herself.

 “[I was able to] actually find Costa, which is down the road, open the door myself, go to the counter, ask for a drink, pay for the drink myself. Then locate a table and sit down, have a coffee on my own. It was the best feeling I’d ever had in my life for such a long time because I had a real sense of accomplishment. I’ve done it on my own.”

A turning point

Coming to terms with sight loss proved to be a turning point in Seema’s life. Following this she sought to spend much more time within her community. This led to her becoming a local councillor in May 2021. She also made it to Shaw’s Disability Power 100 list, which celebrates those with disabilities. 

Seema has also set up a disability training consultancy called Blind Ambition. “My passion at the moment is to try and get people back into work, or give them a skill set to have the tools to be able to get back into work.”

A personal message

Reflecting on how Seema wishes society at large would view those with disabilities, she says this: 

“I want people without disabilities to see those with disabilities just as a person. Yes, that person is going to have additional needs, they may have a different way of actually doing things. They might have different ways of accessing information or moving or listening or seeing or whatever. But, first and foremost, they must see that person as an equal human being to themselves and not make any judgments about them and not make any assumptions and not think that you know what’s best for them because you don’t.”

Share this episode

1 thought on “Coming to Terms with Sight Loss”

  1. Aw, this waѕ an incredibly gooԀ post. Τaking a few minutes and
    actual effort to make a very good article… but what cɑn I say… Ӏ put things off a
    whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.