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Care pathways for UK and US service personnel who are visually impaired
  1. Estelle Malcolm,
  2. S A M Stevelink and
  3. N T Fear
  1. Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicola T Fear, Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Weston Education Centre, 10 Cutcombe Road, London SE5 9RJ, UK; nicola.t.fear{at}


Objectives The aim of this paper is to outline the different care pathways for sudden and gradual vision loss within UK and US military systems, as well as the provision of support by the main third-sector organisations looking after visually impaired (ex-) service personnel.

Methods The Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham were consulted to obtain information and relevant documentation on UK care pathways. Experts in the field of visual impairment and the military-provided information on care pathways for US service personnel were consulted. The majority of the information on US care pathways was gathered from the Department of Veterans Affairs website and unclassified documents.

Results The care pathways for UK and US service personnel with a visual impairment vary depending on the cause of visual impairment. Blind Veterans UK and the Blinded Veterans Association are the main organisations that support UK and US (ex-) service personnel, often filling in the gaps that other services do not have the resources to provide. The main difference between the two pathways, other than the UK healthcare system being free at the point of service, is that the Veteran Health Administration is one of the first national healthcare systems to integrate rehabilitation services for personnel with a visual impairment into the health services provided.

Discussion The UK could benefit from having specific care coordinators for service personnel that specifically integrate rehabilitation, medical care and treatment for their visual impairment.


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