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Paul Pritchard – Flintshire, Wales

“My eye specialist has already said he has noticed an improvement.”

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on August 14 1972 at 11am. I was 14 at the time. It was a painful time in my life and it is indelibly etched on my mind.

We’d been to Disneyland California and I pretty much ruined the holiday. I could tell you what every toilet looks like in Disneyland. It came to a head when we went on lion safari. You go in your own car and it takes two hours, but we were in there for ten minutes because I needed to go to the bathroom again.

My parents took me to the doctor as soon as we got back home. I went into A&E where I was given insulin, and I felt better pretty much immediately.

I was living in the US at the time and you spend around two weeks in hospital doing diabetes education sessions before you are discharged. That stood me in good stead for years to come.

Back in those days, diabetes care was very different. You had a very rigid routine where you had to do the same thing at the same time every day. You ate the same food every day and your portions were measured.

Things moved on in the early 80s when you got two insulin injections a day. Now I have multiple injections and I’m due to move to an insulin pump.

Having diabetes is a tough old road to run along but the toughest thing is the effect it has on my wife Diane. She worries so much about me, but I’m pretty good at looking after myself. You just try to do the best for your health that you can every day.

But no matter how much you look after your own health, you can’t avoid some of the complications that come with diabetes. Being told you have diabetic retinopathy and that it could lead to you losing your sight is scary because it would mean losing a big part of your freedom.

I’m retired now so it’s not about work, but I like gardening, my wife and I go for day trips, music is a big thing for me. Not being able to go out and the thought of my wife having to care for me would be awful.

I’d been attending an ophthalmology clinic since around 1990 and nothing much changed until 2002 when I had laser surgery. I had more laser in 2012 and when my eyes started to deteriorate, I also had injections into my eye in 2013, which was the most horrendous thing I have ever gone through. I’ve broken my shoulder, I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed and the injections were far worse in terms of the anticipation, what happened during the procedure, and the pain, which felt like my eye was on fire.

I found out about the Noctura 400 sleep mask quite by chance by reading an article about it. When I called makers PolyPhotonix to ask about it, I was invited to an information evening. I now get a new mask from my optician Lyndon Taylor every three months so my condition can be monitored.

My eye specialist has already said he has noticed an improvement. But, even if it doesn’t noticeably improve my condition, it should in theory keep it at where it is now. To have this alternative, which could stop further eye damage is a huge relief.