Coronation Street star Lisa George reveals she could go BLIND due to eye condition and


Coronation Street actress Lisa George has been diagnosed with a genetic eye condition that could see her go blind, she has revealed.

The much-loved actress, who has played seamstress Beth Sutherland on the ITV soap for 12 years, has told how she has been diagnosed with the condition NAION – non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy – which causes sudden vision loss in one eye.

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Lisa says she now fears her disability will mean she may never be able to work in acting again after suffering two separate incidents that have left her visually impaired in both eyes.

Corrie bosses are so worried about her sight that they have even taken measures to help her, including printing off her scripts in big fonts, organising transport when she was unable to drive for six months, and have even changed some of her scenes to accommodate her failing eye sight.

‘I always think there are people far worse off than you, and I’m just grateful I can still see but we don’t know what could happen in the future.’

Lisa pictured in hospital

Lisa pictured in hospital 

Lisa (pictured in 2016) told MailOnline how she has been diagnosed with the condition NAION - which causes sudden vision loss in one eye

Lisa (pictured in 2016) told MailOnline how she has been diagnosed with the condition NAION – which causes sudden vision loss in one eye

The much-loved actress played seamstress Beth Sutherland (right) on the ITV soap for 12 years

The much-loved actress played seamstress Beth Sutherland (right) on the ITV soap for 12 years

Lisa suffered her first eye ‘incident’ in 2016 when the heavy knot at the end of a piece of rope caught her right eye while gardening. 

A few days later the sight in her right eye completely went and she ended up scraping the side of her car while driving down a narrow country lane.

What is NAION? 

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is the most common cause of optic nerve swelling and damage in adults over 50 years of age.

The condition refers to the loss of blood flow to the optic nerve – which is the cable that connects the eye to the brain.

It typically causes sudden vision loss in one eye, without any pain.

In many cases, the person notices significant loss of vision in one eye immediately upon waking up in the morning.

The visual loss typically remains fairly stable, without getting markedly better or worse once it has occurred

People are likely to be at risk if they have conditions such as diabetes, high-blood pressure and sleep apnea.

She was later told that she had lost part of the sight at the bottom of her right eye and unfortunately it would never come back.

Over the next six years Lisa saw a number of eye specialists, both privately and within the NHS, as she desperately tried to find out what was going on with that right eye.

She said: ‘Luckily my left eye was really good with 20/20 vision and the only thing I struggled with after that first incident was being able to read. 

‘Corrie were great, they printed my scripts in a bigger font to make it easier but I just wasn’t getting any explanation as to what had happened. I had scans, dye put into my eyeball, but the doctors were split as to whether it was the trauma from the rope or something else that had caused the haemorrhage at the back of my eye.’

But things worsened in the summer of 2022 when, while driving home after celebrating former Corrie co-star Katie McGlynn’s 29th birthday, Lisa suffered a second incident, this time in her left eye.

She said: ‘I’d had a lovely evening with Katie and was driving home on the M6 when my left eye went really weird. I couldn’t tell whether the lorries in front of me were merging into one, it was very frightening. I managed to get myself home and took myself back at A&E the following morning.

‘I ended up staying in there for a week which was horrendous. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. 

‘I had a CT scan on my head, two lumber punctures, and they wouldn’t let me take my medication for my Diabetes which was making feel really poorly. 

‘No-one seemed to have a clue what had happened, they just said ‘you’ve got nerve clusters’ and after a week they sent me home and told me to take Aspirin for the pain.’

Lisa (pictured, at The British Soap Awards in 2017)  suffered her first eye 'incident' in 2016 when the heavy knot at the end of a piece of rope caught her right eye while gardening

Lisa (pictured, at The British Soap Awards in 2017)  suffered her first eye ‘incident’ in 2016 when the heavy knot at the end of a piece of rope caught her right eye while gardening

Lisa was later told that she had lost part of the sight at the bottom of her right eye and unfortunately it would never come back (pictured, as her character Beth Sutherland)

Lisa was later told that she had lost part of the sight at the bottom of her right eye and unfortunately it would never come back (pictured, as her character Beth Sutherland)

Lisa saw another NHS eye doctor at her local hospital who confirmed that although her central vision was fine the peripheral vision in her left eye had completely gone.

It was then that she first heard about the condition NAION – non-arthritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy.

But with very little funding in the NHS he told her to go private.

She said: ‘Fortunately I was able to go private but there are so many people out there who are still not getting answers. Eventually I ended up at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and was seen by a neuro ophthalmologist.’

While attending appointments and having yet more tests, Lisa was unable to drive for six months.

She had her driving licence taken off her in October 2022.

Corrie bosses couldn’t be more supportive and arranged transportation to get her to and from work.

She said: ‘Corrie were brilliant and said, don’t worry we will help you with everything you need. My biggest worry was the night shoots.

‘I struggled to see the edge of the pavement during one shoot, but they’ve all been really helpful, making sure I’m okay. You’ve got to deal with it the best way you can.

‘Another time, because I have no sight in the peripheral of my left eye, I was working on a scene and I had to come down the fake stairs but I couldn’t see.

‘I asked the director if it was okay to change the direction of the scene because I was having a real problem with the stairs, he was great and we changed it around. They have been so supportive in making these little adjustments for me.

Lisa's character Beth originally arrived on Coronation Street as a love interest for Stee McDonald, but soon formed a romance with Kirk Sutherland (left)

Lisa’s character Beth originally arrived on Coronation Street as a love interest for Stee McDonald, but soon formed a romance with Kirk Sutherland (left) 

‘But I’ll still miss a curb, and if there’s any darkness I’ll trip over a cable! I do it at home all the time, bumping into different things.

‘The worst thing is when I’m tired. And when I first wake up in the morning it takes me a little while to get proper vision.’

It was during a visit to The Royal Theatre exchange in Manchester two months ago when the enormity of her acting career away from Corrie really hit her, and she broke down in tears.

She said: ‘I’d gone to the theatre to watch a production of Romeo & Juliet, at the end of the show the entire stage went to blackout. 

‘The actors all got off the stage in the dark. I came out of there and I thought ‘I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to work on the stage again’ because there’s no way I’d be able to see if I had to come off the stage in the dark.

‘The panic and fear set in and I got really upset. Obviously, I’m sure they put things in place for visually impaired actors but it was a real fear and it really hit me real hard, how am I going to cope in the industry in the future?

‘It really hit me. I do worry about things like that.’

Lisa was able to get back on the road towards the middle of last year, and is now on a medical driving license.

But it took until last November for her to finally be diagnosed with NAION.

She said: ‘There’s only 11 per cent of people in the UK who have it. It’s not a heart attack or a stroke, it’s an in-between of the two.

‘My doctor was dead straight with me. She said that I would never get my full sight back. The damage was done and I had to live with it.

‘When it first happened I was so petrified but I can’t worry about what could or couldn’t happen, it’s no way to live. I’ve just got to get on with it.

‘I’ve accepted what has happened. I’ve got my glasses and have my varifocal glasses for driving now too.’

Lisa has been helped by close friend, Paralympic athlete Libby Clegg, who is registered blind.

The pair met when they took part in Dancing on Ice back in 2020.

She said: ‘She’s been really inspirational. I rang her because I was so upset, she said ‘you’ve just got to learn how to adjust to things.’ She was just wonderful. She introduced me to the visually impaired charity that she works for.’

Despite everything that has happened over the last few years, Lisa is feeling positive about the future.

She said: ‘I’ve been through the menopause, am using a sensor so I can check my sugar levels and keep my Diabetes under control and I’ve had a complete overhaul of my diet. I’ve always eaten really healthily but with everything going on with my eyes and my Diabetes I went to see a nutritionist.

‘I cut out so much from my diet and am a stone lighter than I was last year. I’m loving the weight I’m at now. I went out on Friday and wore a velvet suit that was a size 10. I have not been in a size 10 since I was 28!

‘I feel like the best I’ve felt in ages even though I’ve got all these health problems. I’m just grateful I’ve still got my sight.’



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