A rider who is desperately trying to raise enough money to save her sight says it would mean “everything” if she could get back into the saddle.
Rowan Gomm was diagnosed with proliferative retinopathy last year as a complication of her diabetes. The condition involves blood vessels in the retina bursting and forming scar tissue, which can cause “significant” bleeding and lead to the retina pulling away from the back of the eye.
The 24-year-old, who has since lost vision entirely in one eye, was told by doctors she must stop riding, but that injections of a medicine called anti-VEGF, which could not be funded by the NHS, could help save the sight in her good eye.
She is now trying to raise the £5,000 necessary to fund her first round of treatment through a fundraising page.
“Riding was my whole life,” Rowan told H&H. “It was the reason I got up in the morning, and everything I worked towards.
“They said I had to stop as vigorous exercise can make more blood vessels burst, and if I fell off, I could get back up and be blind.
Rowans has been told that if she has the anti-VEGF treatment, this should “get on top of the blood vessels bursting” and lower the pressure in her eyes, which she hopes will mean she can ride her 17.2hh gelding Zak again.
“I need to start the treatment as soon as possible as my condition worsens daily. I could wake up completely blind any day. The gift of sight is one we all take for granted every day and something I am terrified of losing completely,” she said.
The maggots break down diseased tissue and promote healing. Warning: graphic image
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“I wouldn’t be able to go hunting or jumping or anything but I should be able to do some schooling and hacking, at least.
“I used to be out competing or training every weekend, and was hoping to do some affiliated dressage but just to be able to get on Zak again, even if just for a hack, would mean everything; I miss it so much.”
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