Bengaluru: Today he is a long distance runner with a few prestigious marathons to his name, but Sagar Baheti, 32, has had a long hard run against a progressive disease that is costing him his sight to reach where he has.
Six years ago he began to progressively lose his sight and with time the vision loss only became worse. “And slowly I couldn’t see even closer objects," recalls Sagar , who had no idea that he was suffering from Stargardt's disease.
After consulting a few doctors he eventually received the diagnosis which shook him to the core. Stargardt's disease is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration and the progressive vision loss associated with it is caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina called the macula. While this genetic disease usually sets in during childhood, for Sagar it set in much later.
"Adjusting to something like this was a challenge. I can't read normally, and need to use a voice assistance magnifier to hear recorded things. I also use the voice over option on my laptop. It is extremely difficult. But I have adapted. As soon as I got to know about it, I started working on ways to keep functioning normally," says the brave young man.
Although a sportsman, who enjoyed cricket and squash, he decided to look at another sport that was not as dependant on vision and so came his introduction to running.
“Once I started, I never looked back. I enjoy it and it keeps me fit," he says.
Last year Sagar participated in the Boston Marathon , the world’s most competitive modern marathon and the most difficult to qualify for and he became the first visually impaired person to run it.
He also ran the California International Marathon the same year. "It is getting easier every day. The more familiar I get to newer ways, the easier it is becoming. But since it is a progressive degeneration I am trying to hurry in chasing my dreams," he sums up smiling.