Chris McCausland: ‘I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa’ – what is that?

Medical breakthrough could cure common forms of blindness

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After years of touring up and down the country, Chris McCausland played gigs at The Comedy Store and landed himself a role as Rudi on CBeebies show Me Too! where his character is also blind. The father-of-one said: “The makers of the show wanted the character to be blind. “But we all shared the desire to have storylines that didn’t revolve around the things a blind person can’t do.”

Instead, the creative team focused on “normal stories where the character just happens to be blind”.

Speaking candidly about his blindness, Chris told Disability Horizons: “My eyesight has deteriorated steadily throughout my whole life, with most of it going during my late teens.

“I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) early on, but over the years it’s been presented under all sorts of new and original names.

“From the rather dull and generic-sounding macular degeneration to the cool and groovy inverse cone-rod dystrophy.”

Retinitis pigmentosa

The National Eye Institute warned that “early symptoms” of the condition include “decreased night vision” and loss of peripheral (i.e.) side vision.

As the condition progresses, people can expect to lose their sight.

The organisation explained that retinitis pigmentosa is a “group of rare, genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina”.

The retina is the light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eyes.

Chris described his vision as “a load of blurry lights” so, at one point, he decided to gain assistance from a guide dog.

“It turns out that he wasn’t very good,” he said. “It was my first dog and so I didn’t really have a frame of reference.”

Chris quipped: “He used to take me wherever he wanted to go and didn’t really listen to me. Maybe he was deaf, which would be ironic, I suppose.”

He has, however, had better luck with assisted technology and access software, which he has been using for the “past 30 years”.

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A post shared by Chris McCausland – Comedian (@chrismccauslandcomedy)

How being blind has affected Chris being a father

“My wife is sighted, so that helps a lot,” he admitted to Disability Horizons.

“I can’t imagine how difficult being a mum must be if you are blind, or how difficult it must be if both parents are blind.”

His daughter, Sophie, “really gets” that her father is blind, and is “very helpful”.

“She will also sit through a film with audio description on, even though I know that it drives her a bit mad,” Chris revealed.

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A post shared by Chris McCausland – Comedian (@chrismccauslandcomedy)

Chris’s career

Being a big hit with audiences, Chris has landed segments on a variety of comedy panel shows.

For instance, Chris has made appearances in Have I Got News For You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, and QI.

“It’s such a laugh and so silly that I can’t really believe I am being paid to have that much fun,” he said.

Chris McCausland will now star on ITV’s The Chase: Celebrity Special on Saturday, November 20 at 8.30pm.

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