Katie Eyes a Bright Future; IT CHANGED MY LIFE...: When Rebecca Hawkings' Cataracts Caused Her Eyesight to Deteriorate, She Worried That She Might Lose Her Sight Completely. Now She's Looking Forward to a Brighter Future, She Tells Kirstie McCrum
Byline: Kirstie McCrum
Rebecca Hawkings was just 19 when she was diagnosed with cataracts and her sight problems stopped her from living the life she wanted.
She had to give up the chance to study and began to suffer from depression.
But now, four years on, she has turned a corner after being helped by back-to-work charity the Shaw Trust.
Rebecca, of Penarth, was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes and discovered that the clouding that had developed can progress to cause vision loss and blindness if left untreated.
She found that they were affecting every aspect of her life, including her job in Penarth Library, where she has worked since she was diagnosed.
"My eye problems have held me back for years. They stopped me going into further education and from progressing in my current role.
"Simple things like watching TV and reading a book have been impossible, let alone studying or working efficiently.
I've spent the last five years working around feeling unwell," she says.
Rebecca had her first round of surgery to address her cataracts when she was 22, and the second lot in the last four months.
"The first operation to remove the cataract was done on the NHS," Rebecca says. "It was an extremely good service, but the surgery and technology was fairly limited and didn't suffice."
Rebecca needed some more advanced surgery where the lens would be custom made to fit, but it could only be done privately.
But her employer offered her some great support and advice.
"My work was fantastic, very supportive and the occupational health department put me in touch with the Shaw Trust," she says.
Shaw Trust is an employment charity specialising in helping people with disability or disadvantages into work.
They worked with Rebecca's employer to help her situation, because Rebecca had been suffering with migraines and depression and had reached her limit in terms of time off sick.
Rebecca had no idea how Shaw Trust would be able to help, but an advisor met with her to assess her situation and see what support she required. …