Libby Clegg health: Why is she blind? Dancing On Ice star’s progressive eye condition
Libby Clegg, 29, whose currently appearing on Dancing On Ice, is a gold-winning paralympian who has worked extremely hard to get herself where she is in her career. Born with a degenerative eye disease, the registered blind contestant will come back on the ice more determined than ever. Making her Paralympic debut in Beijing back in 2008, Libby won a silver medal in the T12 (visually impaired athletes) 100m sprint. Keen to achieve more, she took home another silver medal – this time beating her own personal best at 12.13 seconds – in the London Paralympics 2012. Never one to give up, she finally won gold at the 100m and 200m sprints at Rio in 2016.
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The 29-year-old described to The Daily Mail the extent of her blindness.
“It’s like looking at a pixelated computer screen or a scrunched-up firework,” she began.
“I have some peripheral sight – barely any – and with what little sight I do have, I was able to use to follow the lines on the track.”
The athlete suffers from a rare eye disorder called Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy.
Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy is also known as fundus flavimaculatus.
The inherited eye condition is caused by an altered gene, causing a waiting of a central area of the retina called the macula.
Diagnosed with the disease at the tender age of nine, Libby isn’t an exception.
It’s recognised by the Macular Society Charity that children first experience symptoms between the ages of six and 12.
An early symptom of this disorder is finding it difficult to adapt from dark to light surroundings, or vice versa.
There are currently no treatment for the disease and Libby has accepted her eyesight will continue to deteriorate.
Speaking to Daily Mail, Libby added: “I’m at the age where my sight should be stabilising but it’s still deteriorating.
“Things will never go black, but I don’t know yet exactly what I will be able to see.”
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Determined to live a full life, Libby is engaged to fellow paralympian Dan Powell.
Together they share 10-month-old Edward and she’s taking it in her stride.
“Motherhood is completely life-changing,” she admitted. “I’m fortunate in that he’s a good baby – he’s really calm, he sleeps well.”
And being a new mum isn’t the only new challenge Libby has undertaken.
Starring on Dancing On Ice alongside Mark Hanretty, she’s the first legally blind contestant to take part in the show.
Last week saw the pair skating along to Vanessa Carlton’s song A Thousand Miles.
Scoring quite high on the leaderboards – 33.5 points – it came as a shock when the public’s vote led her to compete in the skate off against TV celebrity Maura Higgins.
Skating on thin ice, Libby and Mark have another opportunity to skate another day as the Ice Panel chose them to stay.
Dancing On Ice continues Sundays on ITV at 6pm.
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