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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Visual impairment, coping strategies and impact on daily life: a qualitative study among working-age UK ex-service personnel

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Sharon A. M. Stevelink, Estelle M. Malcolm, Nicola T. Fear
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-015-2455-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

S.A.M.S., E.M.M. and N.T.F. are based at King’s College London, which receives funding from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). S.A.M.S. and E.M.M. receive funding from Blind Veterans UK to carry out the Blind Veterans UK study. The authors were not directed in any way by the charity or the MoD in relation to this publication.

Authors’ contribution

SAMS was involved in the planning of the study, in developing the data analysis strategy for this paper, participated in data collection, undertook the data analyses and wrote the paper. EMM was involved in developing the data analysis strategy for this paper, participated in data collection, undertook the data analyses, contributed to and commented on the paper. NTF was the principal investigator for this study, was involved in the design, planning and data analysis strategy development of the study and commented extensively on the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Sustaining a visual impairment may have a substantial impact on various life domains such as work, interpersonal relations, mobility and social and mental well-being. How to adjust to the loss of vision and its consequences might be a challenge for the visually impaired person. The purpose of the current study was to explore how younger male ex-Service personnel cope with becoming visually impaired and how this affects their daily life.


Semi-structured interviews with 30 visually impaired male ex-Service personnel, all under the age of 55, were conducted. All participants are members of the charity organisation Blind Veterans UK. Interviews were analysed thematically.


Younger ex-Service personnel applied a number of different strategies to overcome their loss of vision and its associated consequences. Coping strategies varied from learning new skills, goal setting, integrating the use of low vision aids in their daily routine, to social withdrawal and substance misuse. Vision loss affected on all aspects of daily life and ex-Service personnel experienced an on-going struggle to accept and adjust to becoming visually impaired.


Health care professionals, family and friends of the person with the visual impairment need to be aware that coping with a visual impairment is a continuous struggle; even after a considerable amount of time has passed, needs for emotional, social, practical and physical support may still be present.
Additional file 1: Coding framework with the two main themes identified for the current paper. (DOCX 15 kb)
Additional file 2: Semi-structured interview guideline. (DOCX 14 kb)
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