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My story in a nutshell

I was labeled a ‘retard’ by a professional... a ‘retard’! Going through the process of blindness was tough, I was misdiagnosed countless times, I was questioned as to whether or not I was faking it, I was crushed mentally by professionals and skeptics throughout my 18-month long journey to diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Stargardts disease at the age of 9, I was the 20th person in Australia to be diagnosed with this disease, and for lack of a better analogy, it was like a switch turning off, my eyes deteriorated rapidly, no cure insight... no treatment, it was just a waiting game. I became consumed by the fear of being blind, it scared me, I didn’t want to be blind or known for that, the bullies, the name-calling, it was all too much, so I hid it. Society made me feel like I was, less than, a bad person, like I was the cause and the blame for my own incurable disease. I feared everything, I felt like I had to hide like I couldn’t be myself... like, I was accepted, I was just looked down on. My teenage years were rough, I felt unworthy, depressed, constantly anxious and just fighting a battle in my own head, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be happy, I didn’t deserve to be liked, to be healthy, to be accepted! I struggled with daily migraines from the constant strain my eyes were under, rather than getting the help I needed to see, I lived on pain killers daily to cope, I then also turned to food, food was the only thing that brought me happiness, I ate and then I ate some more. By the time I was 18 I was a mess, I was broken, I had lost over 90% of my vision, I was BLIND, I couldn’t see much at all, a bright-colored blur faces that were once recognizable backs unrecognizable. I had eaten my way up to a massive 145kg, I was on medications to slow my heart rate down and also blood pressure medicine, I was on the verge of diabetes and at high risk for sudden death, people weren’t aware of my battles, I felt shut off like I had to hide my disability because the world looked down on us for having an impediment, no one knew I was blind, besides my family and a couple of friends, no one knew why I got to the size I was, they just thought I was the fat weird kid! A time that was meant to be some of the best years of your life, wasn’t the case for me, I was spiraling out of control, rock bottom didn’t exist because I just kept digging and digging, the world was so loud, I needed an intervention. Seeking help was powerful, in a very positive way, ever so slowly, I felt calmer, more accepting, like it was ok to be who I am. Slowly I began to love myself and for the first time, it felt ok, to feel good, to maybe let go and see the light. All the fear, all that hate I had put on myself, started to lift, like the world that was constantly on my shoulders was afloat for the first time, and it felt AMAZING! Discovering myself, and becoming mindful changed me, I started to fearless, felt less anxious and started to no longer care, what people thought of me, I realized that I am worthy, I am deserving of happiness, and that was powerful like I could go outside and feel the sun on my skin for the first time, it was nice, empowering even! I learned that my disability was my strength, my purpose! Losing my sight was what I truly needed to finally see, I no longer let my situation hold me back, and I no longer let the feeling of being looked down soon control me! I had decided to dedicate my life to the promotion of ‘Ability, not Disability spreading my message, my story, and battles, in the hope that not one more person has to feel the way I did. Being disabled is tough, and scary, and we can be made to feel alone. BUT we can change that, we can use our voice to break down those stereotypes surrounding disability! We deserve to be happy, we deserve to be heard, we are important, we are champions in our right! Since my awakening 3 years ago I have become an advocate for the blind and disabled, empowering those around me to live a life of abundance, to not just survive, but thrive, I run a clothing brand MDV which raises awareness for the blind and disabled, I connect with people all around the world of all abilities, I have been fortunate enough to speak at events, I’ve traveled 18 counties so far and counting, I am happy and healthy, I have lost over 55kgs, and most importantly I have a purpose, and that is to help others, above all else, I help others. This is a snippet of my story, in a nutshell, I hope you can take some inspiration from my struggles and feel motivated to live the way you want to live. Please, please remember that you are special, your remarkable, you truly are! Legends, I’ll always be here to support you, if your feeling lost, reach out! Let’s have a chat and spread some love & light, and together we can keep breaking down the stigmas surrounding blindness & disability! Yoocan do anything, you truly can!

Thank you, Matt - MDV xx

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Hi, I'm Matt, I live in Victoria, Australia.. Im 21 years old and am currently living with Stargardt's Disease! I was diagnosed at the age of 9, and have been coming to terms with it ever since, and learning how to deal with it in my own way.. It can be hard at times for sure, but I do anything I put my mind to and don't let the hurdles of low vision keep me down.... I hope to encourage other people around the world with disabilities to live bigger and better lives! Break through the barriers life throws at you.. Achieve your goals, don't let anything or anyone stop you. More of my story to come! #AbilityNotDisability Follow my journey At Or on Instagram @mattdegruchy_vision.



Matt De Gruchy

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I was labeled a ‘retard’ by a professional... a ‘retard’! Going through the process of blindness was tough, I was misdiagnosed countless tim