At the age of 25, Madeline Roberts thought she was suffering from a migraine when she noticed a black spot in the centre of her vision one morning.
But her sight quickly deteriorated in a matter of weeks.
She said: “I thought it was a migraine, but over a fortnight it got worse and by that point I could see very little. It was really scary.”
Although consultants initially insisted they couldn’t find anything wrong, she was eventually told she had wet macular degeneration, a condition which usually affects older people.
She said: “I lost my sight quite quickly and very unexpectedly, and it wasn’t down to age, an injury or an accident. The hardest thing for me was the anger you have and you can’t aim it at anything.”
Madeline was told her condition had most likely occurred as a result of her high myopia, combined with genetics.
Soon after her diagnosis, Madeline was approached to visit the Pembrokeshire Disabled Bowling Club and give it a go. She said: “I wasn’t interested and always thought it was a sport for older people. But, it was the promise of tea and biscuits at the meeting that swung it for me.”
She added: “You never really accept being partially sighted, but in the first year of dealing with the reality of it I needed to do something to get out of the house otherwise I would go crazy.”
Madeline knew quite quickly she had a talent for bowls and was soon entering national championships. She said: “I took to it quite easily. It took me longer to get used to using the sight that I do have to play the game.
“I just felt I had a natural talent for it. Everyone jokes that it must be in my genes as I remember my grandad playing.”
The sport also helped boost her confidence. She added: “When you’re at such a low point with everything and there’s one thing you can do that makes you feel like you’re no longer disabled, it helps improve things.”
In June 2014 Madeline entered her first national outdoor competition and brought home a gold medal for Wales.
Madeline soon be defending her title at the championships. She said: “It has changed me as a person. Whenever you lose something it makes you more determined to see what you are still able to do.”
Now 32, Madeline has undergone laser surgery and had a series of Lucentis® injections. She says her eyesight has been stable since April 2012.