A woman has opened up about her experiences with Multiple Sclerosis in the wake of a potential breakthrough for the condition.
When Claire Thackray, from Taunton, suddenly went blind in one eye at the age of 25, she initially put it down to crying too much after a break-up.
Her vision was affected for a month, and medical investigations initially drew a blank - but within months, MS was identified as the cause.
She said: "I was completely floored, there's no history of MS in my family - it hadn't occurred to me at all.
"Initially I thought my life was over, and that I was on a downward spiral to disability and a wheelchair.
"Thankfully that hasn't been the case at all."
A major new discovery has recently been made towards finding the cause of multiple sclerosis - potentially paving the way for new treatments.
Scientists have found a new cellular mechanism which may cause the disease and a potential hallmark which could be a target for future treatment of the autoimmune disorder.
Using human brain tissue samples, researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Alberta found a protein called Rab32 is present in large quantities in the brains of people with MS - but is virtually absent in healthy brain cells.
Ms Thackray said: "I really welcome this new research - it's really important to move forward in our understanding about what goes on in the brain in people with MS."
She manages her symptoms through medication and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and has found that her symptoms have so far stabilised, with no further decline.
Her experience prompted her to re-prioritise her life. She left her job as a teacher and now works for Taunton Deane Borough council.
"I feel I'm one of the lucky ones," she said.
"I was diagnosed early enough to take measures to help me maintain a good lifestyle and work-life balance.
"I'm a fitness fan and I'm still physically active. Every day that I can see and walk is a good day for me."
Multiple sclerosis affects around 2.5 million people around the world. Typically, people are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, and it is more common in women than men.