As National Eye Health Week takes place this week, from 20-26 September, a painter from Leyland, who became partially blind, is urging people to take better care of their eyes.
National Eye Health week takes place each year to promote regular eye tests and raise awareness of the importance of eye health, and Mark Clayton, a 57 year old visually impaired man from Leyland, knows only too well the importance of this.
Mark, who was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy in January 2019, a condition causing sight loss amongst diabetics, said: “My eyesight starting having problems, I couldn’t see as well at night, everything was cloudy, and I found it difficult to drive.
Driver caught 'snoring merrily away' on the M6 near Bamber Bridge with full-beam headlights and engine running
Lanes reopen after car crash on M6 brings Preston motorway traffic to a halt with severe delays expected
M6, M61 and M55 delays in Preston due to Blackpool Air Show and Lake District holiday traffic
Leyland residents claim they are paying grounds maintenance fees to make it look "worse"
Lancashire residents left without water on one of the hottest weekends this summer should expect supplies to return this evening
“My mum was in hospital at the time and I had the choice of going to the opticians or seeing my mum and I chose my mum, but if I had gone to the opticians, they could have done more to help me.”
Mark, who lives with his wife Karan and has three grandchildren, says his sight loss has had a great effect on him; he can’t drive anymore, he can’t cook meals, and as a keen painter, his artwork has had to adapt.
The former process worker for BTR rubber factory in Leyland, added: “If I had gone to the opticians sooner, it may not be as bad as it is now, so go as soon as you notice anything, and go and get your eyes checked every year.
"This week is important to raise public awareness, people don’t really think about losing their sight, and there's so many different ways it could happen."
Despite his sight loss, Mark has continued his love of painting, and has found it helps him come to terms with the realities of his condition.
Mark said: “I have loved painting ever since I was a little boy, but I stopped doing it for a while as I was busy with work. Then a few years ago I had to finish work because I had a series of heart attacks and problems with my spine as it was crumbling, so I came back to it. Painting helped my mental health and took me away from the realities and into my own little world where I can just paint.
“Since I lost a lot of my sight I am finding it more and more difficult but I still do what I can, it just takes a bit longer. I see it in my head and try to put it down onto the canvas, and the colours I use now are a lot brighter because I can see them better.
“It is important for me to carry on because it keeps me on a steady level and without it I would be lost.
“I used to have a classic Mini and I loved that, so when I had to give it up I thought to myself at least I have my painting."
Following his diagnosis, Mark was referred to the sight loss charity Galloway's, who provided him with a day lamp and magnifiers to help with his painting, and encourage him to continue his artwork.
Mark added: “I have even discussed with Adele, the Sight Loss Advisor at Galloway’s, the possibility of submitting my work to the open exhibition at the Harris Museum in Preston. It would be good to show other visually impaired people what can be done.”