Laura’s story

Laura, who has aniridia, kindly reached out to us to share her story. Her passion for sport and strength to support others to find the enjoyment she has, shines through.

For Rare Diseases Day 2021, the key messages are; Rare is Many, Rare is Proud, Rare is Strong. We gathered stories to showcase how those with aniridia lead their lives, proudly and with strength. These stories will raise understanding of aniridia with members of our aniridia family and beyond.


Laura Cartmill standing on a football pitch, wearing a purple t-shirt and shorts, smiling as she holds a silver trophy in one hand and a gold medal in a square red case in the other hand.
Me at the end of the season at the Devon Ability with trophy for Tavistock Specials Ladies. We won the Fair Play Award!

I am 30 years old and I was born with aniridia.

I struggle with having dry eyes. Sensitivity to any lights, cloudy days and when the heating is on is when I would use polarised sunglasses to help with this.

I’ve not let it affect me. I play disability football for Tavistock specials ladies in a league called Devon Ability. I have been doing this for 9 years now. I also train with Newton Abbot Soccaability on a Saturday morning. Both are for all different disabilities and they organise a bright coloured football for me, which really helps. I have really enjoyed being with these clubs, they are really helpful.

I am doing a football coaching course in the future and possibly will be helping out with the juniors in training with Newton Abbot Soccaability on a Saturday morning, where I train with the adults.

I would also like to set up a football session for all different disabilities to get everyone involved and all different impairments. I want to support everyone and give them have the confidence that they can take part in a sport.

At my previous club I was judged a lot because of my visual impairment and it really affected. The new clubs are really supportive and given me so much confidence

Me on my 5000 miles in 500 days challenge to support Aniridia Network

At the moment I am doing a fundraising challenge to support Aniridia Network, 5000 miles in 500 days. I do 10 miles everyday. I have raised £143 for Aniridia Network so far. I have done 2080 miles so far. It started back in August 2020 and will finish in December 2021. Anything is possible!”

Thank you Laura for sharing your story with us. Your strength to support others is admirable and we are so glad to hear about the successes you have found in coaching others!

Me with my football coach. We are both at different clubs now. We get on so well, he has helped me a lot and I have helped him out coaching too. We won the league, didn’t lose a game and everyone called us the dream team! He has always encouraged me to do coaching.

Inspired by Laura’s story? Share your story on Rare Disease Day or any other time tell your story on our blog! It all goes go towards raising awareness of aniridia and showcase the amazing things those living with aniridia can achieve.

Logos of Rare Disease Day, Rare Disease UK Aniridia Network. Rare is Many, Rare is Stroung Rare is Proud.

About Aniridia Network

A charity support group for people with the genetic visual impairment aniridia and their families in the UK and Ireland. Our vision is that people with/associated with aniridia are hopeful, confident, supported and well informed regarding aniridia. Founded in 2000. First registered as a charity in 2011 and fully in 2018.
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