LIFE as a teenager is tough at the best of times but Veer Patel has more challenges than most.

He is registered blind and was told as a child he would not be able to read or write.

But Veer has stubbornly refused to be defeated and hopes next year to go to university.

But Veer’s life has been enhanced after he was given a guide dog which he nicknames Puppy Patel.

Veer, 17, was born virtually blind due to a rare genetic condition which affects his sight, teeth and kidneys.

Only 250 people in the world have been diagnosed with Oculo-Dento-Digital syndrome and Veer is one of them.

Veer’s sight deteriorated further when his retina became detached from his eye last year.

He underwent an operation at St Thomas’ Hospital in London to try to rectify his vision but it proved unsuccessful.

It took him about five weeks to recover and he is now left with limited vision in just one eye.

Veer said: “I had an operation to fix it but I ended up losing the vision in it completely.

“I can’t see as well as other people, I can just about see them - everything is a blur. Without my glasses, I can’t see anything.

“I love playing video games but I have to have my head right up against the screen.

“But was told I was never going to be able to write or read a computer screen but I’ve done all of that and more.”

He certainly has. Veer is studying four A-levels, in electronics, product design, business and IT, at Tendring Technology College and is hoping to study computer science at Essex University.

As we talk, his 20-month-old Goldenor guide dog sits under the desk calmly resting his head by Veer’s feet.

Veer and his family, who live in Clacton, welcomed the new member of their family in August.

The pair have been working together for several weeks and are getting to know each other.

Veer refers to him as Puppy Patel. He wants to keep his name a secret so school friends do not distract him while he is working by calling out his name.

Before Puppy Patel came along, Veer used a stick to help him get around.

He said: “I hated my stick. When I was walking I still bumped into people and used to get pushed around.”

Puppy Patel helps Veer as he negotiates the maze of the school building as well as guiding him on to the bus and around his home, helping him judge the distance and navigate his way through crowds.

Just having his guide dog around gives the teenager the confidence to travel to school by himself and meet up with his mates.

Veer said: “When I’m around him, he just cheers me up.

“He just gives me confidence, I’ve got a lot more of it now, even if it’s just me going to town.

“I can go anywhere, I can go to the cinema and I can get the bus by myself.

“He’s always looking after me, he’ll just sit and stare at me to make sure I’m OK.”

Puppy Patel has made himself at home at the school including having his own bed in the school’s office.

Veer knows, in time, his sight is likely to become worse but for now he defiantly looks ahead to his future.

Once Veer completed his A-levels the pair will be heading off to university together where they will live independently in halls of residence, something Veer wouldn’t have been able to do without a guide dog.

Veer added: “He is just everything to me.

“He’s just lovely and I wouldn’t want to be without him. He’s my best friend.”