Stab Magazine | Restoring vision to surf
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Restoring vision to surf

Words by Craig Jarvis It’s a heavy blow losing the sight of one eye if you’re a surfer, but it’s not the end. Becoming a Cyclops is a bummer, but you can still get enough vision to feel your way through a tube or fly along the length of a Supers wall. Derek Hynd has […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Words by Craig Jarvis

It’s a heavy blow losing the sight of one eye if you’re a surfer, but it’s not the end. Becoming a Cyclops is a bummer, but you can still get enough vision to feel your way through a tube or fly along the length of a Supers wall. Derek Hynd has been surfing with one eye since his accident in the shorebreak while competing in Durban all those years ago. Top surf photographer Jason Childs lost an eye and continued shooting and surfing afterwards. A few years ago John Le Roux from South Africa lost an eye while surfing Supertubes, but persevered, surfing almost daily at his home break in Cape St Francis. John, who worked for Billabong in South Africa for the good part of two decades was a hardcore surf stoker, and made the time to paddle out whenever he could.

About a year ago, after helping out at the South African Surfing Champs, John woke up to a dark household. He turned the light on, but the room remained dark. He first thought that maybe it was a power failure, something that happens a lot in South Africa, but when he felt the light bulb next to his bed and it was warm, he realised that something was very wrong.

He had gone blind overnight due to a condition called nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. The optic nerve of his right eye hadn’t received enough fresh blood supply overnight and it shut down. And optic nerves don’t recover by themselves.

John and his wife Lucia had to restart their lives faced with incredible challenges in a world that doesn’t really understand or organically help blind people.

It’s been a year of living in darkness and sitting at the point listening to all his friends walking past, touching him on the arm as they headed out for the jump spot at his beloved home break. Then the news came that there was an experimental stem cell procedure in San Francisco that might be able to help John.

Thing is, with the crippling Rand / Dollar exchange rate, it is a crazy expense and something that John and his family can’t afford.

The GoFundMe campaign is going great guns, but needs a bit more of a push to get to the needed $30,000. We can only imagine the incredible anguish of losing sight, no matter what age, because we all want to surf forever. We’ll be dropping cash to help John along his way. Who wants to join us?

The GoFundMe is here.

Imagine if this was your homebreak, and one day you woke up unable to see well enough to surf it. Photo: WSL/Kirstin

Imagine having a wave like this within reach, and waking up one day unable to see well enough to surf it. Photo: WSL/Kirstin

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