New government guidelines for veterans battling sight loss

A new Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) form, with accompanying Explanatory Notes for Consultant Ophthalmologists, has been launched on the Department of Health website.

The move has been welcomed by Blind Veterans UK, part of a working group led by the RNIB, which has supported the development of the new CVI form. This form is issued to patients who have been assessed by a consultant ophthalmologist as being vision-impaired. It often provides the first opportunity for patients to access information about support and services.

Now, for the first time, the CVI Explanatory Notes advise consultant ophthalmologists to ask their patients if they have ever served in the Armed Forces, and if so, to signpost them to Blind Veterans UK.

The CVI form also refers people to downloadable documents "Sight Loss: What we needed to know," for further information and advice.

Blind veteran Simon Brown lost his sight after being shot in the face by a sniper in Iraq. He currently works for the No One Alone Campaign, and was part of a consultation group that helped develop the new sight loss guide.

"I'm really pleased that these new guidelines have come in so that people can be signposted to the support they need as soon as possible. Blind Veterans UK helped me during a very difficult time in my life, and I think that everyone who has experienced sight loss should know how and where to find support when they most need it." (Simon Brown)

Derek Twigg MP and blind veteran Simon Brown

The campaign aims to reach the 59,000 ex-Service men and women who could be eligible for the charity's support. "We know that almost one quarter (24 percent) of our veterans go six years or more before receiving our life-changing services and support. The new guidelines are a great opportunity to reach vision-impaired veterans at the point of diagnosis, and ensure that no one who has served their country has to battle sight loss alone." (Lara King, group manager of Blind Veterans UK's No One Alone Campaign)

Blind Veterans UK has been supporting changes to the CVI since 2014 to ensure that vision-impaired veterans are referred to the charity as soon as possible. Blind Veterans UK spoke to MPs and representatives from the Department of Health about the need to revisit the guidelines at a parliamentary event 2014, and has since worked with partners in the sector to provide better information about sources of support.

See more information about the work of Blind Veterans UK and the new CVI. If you are a vision-impaired ex-Service man or woman, or care for someone who is, find out more about the No One Alone Campaign, or telephone 0800 389 7979.

Blind Veterans' UK is a Veterans' Gateway Partner.

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