An Angus RAF veteran who has battled isolation due to his vision impairment is bouncing back after backing from a sight loss charity.
Sam Alexander, 82, was diagnosed with the 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.
Sam has been a part of the UK’s model flying circuit since the 1950s and before his diagnosis would regularly drive across the country for racing meetings.
But the Westmuir-based RAF veteran was left feeling “very low” and “isolated” after losing his driving licence because of his poor vision. It cut him off from socialising with his racing friends – many of whom are based in England.
However, since becoming a Scottish War Blinded member, the charity has provided him with specialist equipment and one-on-one support to help him back on track.
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.
He explained: “I was seeing pictures I wasn’t looking at just while I was walking around. It was most peculiar. Seeing table cloths on the table that weren’t there and forget-me-nots falling down a waterfall.
“It was worrying at the start. It’s settled down now.
“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 served with the Royal Air Force as a senior aircraftsman on national service from 1955-1957, and saw active service in Aden during the Suez Canal crisis.