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SONG'S RIGHT FOR SORE EYES; TUNE IS JUST WHAT DOCTOR ORDERED FOR GRAN'S AGONISING COMPLAINT.

Byline: BRENDAN HUGHES brendan.hughes@walesonline.co.uk

NEARLY-BLIND gran Moira Gleed has found a bizarre solution to her painful eye condition - her eyelids only open properly when she sings.

Moira's rare condition - called focal dystonia - causes her eyes to shut randomly against her will.

The condition also means she suffers pain throughout the day as her eyelids scrape against her "gritty and dry" eyes.

But the grandmother of four, from the village of Froncysyllte, near Wrexham, has found the pain and muscle spasms disappear when she bursts into song.

Moira made the most of the remarkable discovery by joining several local choir groups and taking individual singing lessons.

She said: "There's an incredible feeling of pleasure because I enjoy singing and it does something to your soul. And for some reason when I'm actually singing - the spasms stop.

"It's a tremendous feeling of normality. Normality returns to me, and at the time that I'm actually in the performance I don't think about the condition at all."

Moira was first diagnosed with the neurological condition in 2008.

It affects the muscles around Moira's eyes, causing muscle spasms that make her eyes involuntarily close, twitch and blink. She now walks with the aid of a stick and wears dark glasses and a visor.

The 66-year-old gave up her job as a careers adviser following the diagnosis, and her husband Mike, a retired nurse, now acts as her carer.

She attends a hospital in Manchester every 10 weeks for treatment to help prevent the spasms in her eye muscles.

"I am functionally blind when the spasms occur," said Moira. "Because it's so rare you feel extremely isolated. It makes you very anxious and desperate.

"I almost feel like I have got sand in my eyes every minute of the day. They're gritty and dry all the time.

"They don't open properly but they don't close properly either so that adds to the grittiness."

She added: "I felt so freakish because nobody had ever heard of the condition - my GP hadn't heard of it - and you feel very unsupported.

"It's part of my personality to be outgoing and enjoy getting on with life as best I can, but I miss the fact that I can't just jump in the car and meet friends - the things you expect to do when you're fully mobile."

But Moira was given a new lease of life after she realised that her eyes would remain open while singing.

She said: "It does enable me to forget about the problem and it helps me to recharge my batteries."

Moira, who is part of choirs Choral Variations and Cantorion Maelor, described how her eyes almost instantly open when she begins to belt out a tune.

She said: "As soon as we stop singing and there's the piano accompaniment or the introduction of the song - my eyes are closed. And then as soon as I start singing, they open."

And Moira's newfound love of singing has also encouraged her husband Mike to get involved and join in with choir practice.

The tai chi instructor, 66, said: "Although I'm only an average singer - I'm loving it. It's great that we can both go and join in."

Moira hopes to set up a support group in North Wales to help others affected by the condition.

CAPTION(S):

Mora Gleed from Froncysyllte, Llangollen
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 30, 2012
Words:559
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