Suffering from amblyopia, a rare, hereditary condition that has worsened over time, Mark (pictured below with his wife Trudy) was registered blind over 5 years ago, and has been cared for by his wife Trudy for over a decade. He shares his story with us in his own words.
Mark’s Story: Contacting Blind Veterans UK was ‘the best decision I ever made’
I spent 9 good years with the light Infantry TA and finished in the early 90’s due to my failing eyesight which was caused by a condition I was born with called amblyopia, a rare, hereditary condition.
By 2000 I was really struggling and was registered partiality sighted. I struggled along for another 10 years with things getting worse, and in 2011 I was registered blind.
Whilst in a very depressed state I said ‘enough is enough, I need some help’ and I finally took the advice I was given in 2005 and contacted Blind Veteran’s UK.
This was the best decision I ever made because things started to change from the moment I shook the hand of the greeting guy called Martin at the Brighton centre.
It was at this moment I realised I was not the only one in this situation.
The first week was a most wonderful experience I met and talked to other blind people and they all openly shared advice and tips of how to get on in life; this was wonderful in itself. When I started meeting the staff for all the things Blind Veterans UK could offer me, I was a bit overwhelmed at first but I realised very soon that the encouragement and support that was being offered was second to none.
At the end of the induction they sent me home with equipment that would make my life easer and in turn make life better for my wife and boys. I got home and set my CCTV viewer up and sat down and read a magazine that I had had for months but couldn’t read, it was like living again!
This was the same when a letter came through the door, no more leaving it to the wife or getting the boys to read it to me I could do it myself, what a joyful moment this was!
It was same with making a cup of tea and not spilling it all over the place thanks to a little level indicator.
I then went back to the Brighton centre for training in Independent Living Skills and IT. All of this was wonderful!
Whilst at Brighton for Independent Living Skills I cooked two meals for my wife – I hadn’t done anything like this in years! –> tweet this quote by clicking here!
This is all thanks to the support of Blind Veterans UK. I can’t thank them enough for the equipment they have provided me with, but one of the biggest things Blind Veterans UK do is the practical support and emotional support that is always there wherever you go, even at home as its just a phone call away. The one other thing is the friendships with other members because we all have sight issues we are all in the same situation, it’s like a second family just like you had in the military.
Blind veterans have provided so many opportunities for me since joining, like marching at the Cenotaph in London, photo group holiday weeks, I’ve been shown how to mount and frame photos. I can now do it thanks to Blind Veterans UK
Would I recommend someone to join Blind Veterans UK?
I wouldn’t hesitate as there is not a better place for the support they can give you if you have a sight problem, the one thing I would say is don’t leave it like I did do it NOW you wont regret it!!
Independent research estimates that there are over 68,000 blind veterans who are eligible for charity Blind Veterans UK’s services but are not currently aware of the opportunities and support available.
Blind Veteran UK’s No One Alone campaign is calling for more to be done by NHS healthcare professionals to improve referral pathways to the charity so that veterans are signposted to support as a matter of course once they are diagnosed with severe sight loss.
If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and is now battling severe sight problems, Blind Veterans UK may be able to provide them and their family with a lifetime’s practical and emotional support for free.
For more information people can call 0800 389 7979 or go to www.noonealone.org.uk