A CELEBRATED Olympian has spoken out about how vision therapy helped get him back on the horse after a fall almost put an end to an illustrious career.

To coincide with Eye Health Week, Dorset-based equestrian William Fox-Pitt has told his story about returning to eventing after a fall left him in a coma and with devastating vision problems.

The release of Mr Fox-Pitt’s tale is intended as testament to the work of Shayler Vision Centre in Wareham who worked with him for two months to help get him back on the horse for Rio.

On October 17 last year, Mr Fox-Pitt, who has appeared in no fewer than four Olympic Games, was competing in France when he came off his horse. As a result of the injury, he was put in an induced coma for two weeks.

After he was released from hospital, he began experiencing problems with his eyesight and, in December, sought advice from behavioural optometrist Geoff Shayler. His vision was found to be severely affected with the loss of peripheral vision and one eye turned in, resulting in double vision – a severe impediment to his career.

Mr Fox-Pitt said: “In the beginning, I couldn’t see very well, my double vision and blurred vision made me feel very aware of my disability.

“I could ride on the flat, but jumping was tricky when one fence became four and you didn’t really know which one you were jumping until the last minute.”

Without treatment, it seemed unlikely that he would be chosen for team GB at his fourth Olympic Games.

Mr Shayler, whose practice works with children with vision related learning difficulties as well as adults with visual problems associated with brain trauma, put the equestrian on a fast track vision therapy programme.

He attended the practice twice a day for a one hour session of vision therapy three times a week for 20 sessions, then a further 10 of less intensive therapy was carried out.

Mr Fox-Pitt said: “During therapy, I had to do all sorts of weird things. It was boring, but it was to re-train my eyes to be straight and not blurred or crossed.”

Mr Shayler added: “This was a unique and satisfying challenge, with us having to modify many vision therapy activities for his very special needs including some activities he carried out on horseback.”

“We are really excited that his therapy has been so successful.”

This year’s national Eye Health Week will take place between Monday, September 19 and Sunday, September 25.