Stevenage man who went completely blind at just 27 to hold Herts Vision Loss fundraiser after partially regaining sight
- Credit: Archant
A man who spent more than two years of his life completely blind is holding a fundraising music night to support others who have lost their sight.
Ian Brown, of Chertsey Rise in Stevenage, was 27 when he went blind due to Type 1 diabetes.
Over the course of a year he was completely robbed of his sight through diabetic retinopathy, which affects blood vessels in the retina.
The retina in Ian’s left eye became completely detached, leaving him with no hope of regaining the vision in that eye, and an operation on his right eye proved unsuccessful.
Ian, now 38, said: “I learned to live as a blind man, learning things like long cane skills.
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“I grieved the loss of my vision, but I had a very good support network, thankfully. My friends and my family are what got me through it.”
Ian also turned to the charity Herts Vision Loss – formerly the Hertfordshire Society for the Blind.
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He said: “They gave me support and help, as well as practical aids, when I was struggling and when I was going through my worst point.”
After two-and-a-half years of being totally blind, Ian began to see a blur and then shapes.
The operation which had previously failed had to be repeated.
Ian said: “It was one of the most frightening things I have done, but I now have 25 per cent vision in my right eye and it’s amazing. I feel very blessed.”
Ian now volunteers for Herts Vision Loss, to help others and to give something back to a charity which supported him when he needed it most.
There are an estimated 22,000 people in Hertfordshire with severe and permanent sight loss and, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, this number is set to rise to 32,000 by 2020.
Herts Vision Loss aims to be able to help these people through a range of direct and indirect services.
The charity provides information, advice and outreach to ensure people have the right help and support, and provide home visits, befriending and social and support groups to help reduce loneliness and social isolation.
For the past four years, Ian has been involved with Herts Vision Loss’s Sightlife – a Stevenage support group for those of working age – and he is holding a music night to raise funds to pay for members of the group to go on organised outings.
The event on Saturday, August 12, will be held at The Lytton Theatre on Stevenage’s Vardon Road and will include live music from Stevenage singer-songwriter Mark Sullivan, who started his first band, Gekko, in 1998.
There will also be a disco and a raffle, with refreshments available from the bar.
Ian said: “I want to help as much as I can. I have jumped out of a plane to raise money before, and this will be my third fundraising event.
“I want to help provide outings and activities for people because 90 per cent of people who are blind don’t leave the house.
“I want to give them something to look forward to when they may think there is nothing to look forward to.
“Sometimes you don’t feel like it’s worth going on.
“I have been there and know what it’s like to be told you may never see again.
“You grieve the loss of your vision, and grief affects people in different ways.
“Some people don’t have support and it can be a very lonely place when you are blind.”
The music night starts at 7.30pm and tickets, at £10, are available by calling Ian on 07930 519991 or emailing him at email@example.com
For more information about Herts Vision Loss, which changed its name from the Hertfordshire Society for the Blind in 2015 to celebrate its centenary and to include people who are visually impaired, visit www.hertsvisionloss.org.uk or call 01707 324680.