Blind ex-RAF man rediscovers life after sight loss thanks to Blind Veterans UK

When RAF veteran Stephen Robarts suddenly lost his sight, it was devastating.

In a matter of days, Stephen went from being fully sighted to completely losing his vision, due to the condition Leber’s optic neuropathy.

At first, like so many others, Stephen struggled to come to terms with his sight loss. He said: “Becoming blind was an extremely difficult, sudden and distressing situation, I was sighted on Monday morning, and by the Friday afternoon of that week I was blind”.

At the age of 17, Stephen joined the RAF as a junior entrant. During his seven years in service, Stephen spent time in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Far East, before he was medically discharged in 1970.

Despite having left the RAF over 40 years ago, Stephen and his wife, Ann, were eligible for free, lifelong support from Blind Veterans UK.

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for vision impaired veterans and their families. It doesn’t matter how long ago they served, or how they lost their sight, if they are battling severe sight loss, Blind Veterans UK is here for them.

Since contacting Blind Veterans UK, Stephen has received specialist support and services to help him adjust to life with sight loss and regain his independence. The charity has provided equipment, training and emotional support to the couple, both at the charity’s rehabilitation and training centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno and at home.

Stephen said: “I remember first going to the charity’s Brighton centre for my induction week and I was amazed by the things I experienced there. I was taken around by a member of staff named Martin Shale who was responsible for making sure new veterans were taken care of. I couldn’t believe that he was completely blind and himself a beneficiary of the charity”.

Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone campaign estimates that there are over 68,000 vision impaired veterans in the UK who are eligible for support, but are not currently receiving it. If you know an ex-Service man or woman who is now battling severe sight loss and would like more information about Blind Veterans UK’s free, lifelong support, call freephone 0800 3897979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk.

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