Let the blind lead a dignified life

SINGAPORE - For the first time, I understood the expression, "If looks could kill..." A few weeks ago, I walked into a supermarket in Bukit Panjang Plaza, and almost instantly felt a change in the atmosphere.

Eyes seared through me.

Gasps followed, then murmurs and gestures.

Why did my entrance provoke such strong reactions?

Well, I was accompanying psychotherapist Cassandra Chiu for the day, to gather material for an article I was writing.

Ms Chiu is 33 and blind, struck by Stargardt disease at a young age, a disease which caused her sight to deteriorate rapidly.

I wanted to follow her on her daily routine and observe how she navigated her way around Singapore with her guide dog, Esme, a three-year-old Labrador Retriever with soulful eyes.

Ms Chiu is the second person in Singapore to own a guide dog.

A third dog was brought in a few days ago for former IT consultant Alvin Ng.

In the course of the day, Ms Chiu shared with me her experiences - often negative - when she was with Esme.

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