An Angus veteran who has battled “isolation” due to his vision impairment is now reconnecting with his much-loved model aircrafts.
Sam Alexander, 82, was diagnosed with eye condition macular degeneration three years ago and following a bleed in his right eye last year, now has very poor sight.
The aeroplane enthusiast builds his own flying model aircraft from scratch and has participated on the model flying circuit since the 1950s.
Before his diagnosis he regularly drove across the country for racing meetings.
The Westmuir-based RAF veteran was left felling “very low” and “isolated” after losing his driving licence due to his poor vision, which cut him off from socialising in person with his racing friends, many of whom are based in England.
Since becoming a Scottish War Blinded member, the charity has provided him with specialist equipment and one-on-one support.
Sam, originally from Ayr, said: “Before I joined Scottish War Blinded I was feeling very low.
“Sight loss means you can’t do all the things you could do before – not because of the blindness but the way it affects you.
“You lose your friends if you lose your mobility because I’ve got friends all over the country. When you can’t drive a car, everything becomes a problem. You’re limited to where you can go.
“With my sight loss, the biggest problem that I had was I was losing confidence in myself. At the time I felt very insecure.
“I was quite nervous about going outside on my own. I was also worried because I knew I couldn’t protect myself.
As Sam’s sight has deteriorated, the retired farmer also experienced symptoms of Charles Bonnet Syndrome – a common condition among people with vision loss which causes visual hallucinations as the brain reacts to loss of sight.
Sam explained: “I was seeing pictures I wasn’t looking at just while I was walking around. It was most peculiar.
“It was worrying at the start. It’s settled down now.
“My left eye has taken over the work of the right eye. I’ve got an awful problem with bruising because I walk into things I can’t see on my right-hand side. You can’t tell exactly how close you are to something.
“You’ve got to make allowances for it – I suppose that will come with time.”
Sam became a member of Scottish War Blinded last year after discovering he was eligible for support from the charity as a veteran with sight loss.
Sam served with the Royal Air Force as a Senior Aircraftsman for his national service from 1955 to 1957, and saw active service in Aden during the Suez Canal crisis.
Now supported by Scottish War Blinded Outreach Worker Carole Martin, Sam has been given a specialist ‘Synapptic’ tablet and CCTV reader – an electronic magnifier which projects onto a large screen.