Just weeks before her 21st birthday, Samantha Gatenby received the devastating news that she was going blind from the rare eye condition keratoconus - a thinning of the cornea - and needed emergency surgery.

"I was told by the eye specialist that if I didn't get surgery, I would require a guide dog by the end of the year," she said.

The $5000 surgery was not covered by private health insurance, leaving Ms Gatenby with no choice but to turn to others for help, placing a sign and jar next to the front desk at her workplace asking for donations.

This caught the attention of Perth internet blogger Jason Miller.

"She had this sign that said, 'Dear customers, your receptionist is going blind', so I took a picture of her holding the sign," Mr Miller said.

He posted Ms Gatenby's picture online and a link to her fundraising page on his Facebook and Tumblr site Humans of Perth and it went viral. Within three hours, Ms Gatenby's Go Fund Me website had received more than $2000 in donations.

"By the time of surgery, I had received over $3000 from friends from school I hadn't seen in years, friends of friends and complete strangers," Ms Gatenby said.

"I just felt so overwhelmed and blessed that I wasn't scared."

Her story is one of many told in brief posts as part of Mr Miller's website - inspired by US photographer Brandon Stanton's website Humans of New York.

The 35-year-old IT specialist arrived in WA seven years ago from New Mexico and says he was inspired by the diversity of the city's people.

He dedicates three lunch breaks a week to capturing people's stories and photographs for his website.

"Perth is a big city with small-town benefits, but then you have this multicultural diversity," Mr Miller said.

Ms Gatenby has had the surgery, which is believed to have halted her degenerative eye condition.

She now wears glasses and is able to drive during the day.

"This has literally opened up my eyes," Ms Gatenby said.

"I donate to others now and I've booked a trip to England to see my family. I've got to see the world and I've got to do things."

The West Australian

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