Fareham man who suddenly lost part of vision dealt blow after bike is stolen from under his nose

A MAN who suddenly lost part of his vision at Christmas last year has been dealt a blow after his £600 ‘life-line’ bike was stolen after he popped into a Fareham pub.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Sunday, 8th December 2019, 5:06 pm

Paul Barton, 59, was struck down with a mystery loss of eyesight after suddenly noticing ‘large gaps’ in people’s faces when out in public.

After undergoing numerous tests, doctors at Queen Alexandra Hospital confirmed he had suffered swelling on the optic nerve in his eyes but were unable to identify the underlying cause. Experts, though, told Paul his condition was irreversible.

The Fareham man’s life has been turned upside down after being told the devastating news, with him now unable to continue with his welding job. His life-long motorbike passion has also been consigned to the past as riding is too dangerous.

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Paul Barton

Reading, another one of Paul’s hobbies, has also become difficult with him unable to see certain letters in a word. It now takes him a month to read a book whereas before it would only take him two days.

After struggling to find another job, Paul eventually landed a two-hour-a-day gardening position – making the two-mile journey in his bright green Cannondale Trail 4 bicycle.

But last Saturday the bike was stolen from the rear of The Heathfield Arms pub in Blackbrook Road at around 7pm after he popped in there with his partner Natalie.

Speaking of the incident, Paul said: ‘I’m gutted about the theft – it was a bit of a shock. I used the bike because I am now no longer able to ride a motorbike. It’s been a lifeline for me.

‘I didn’t lock the bike as it was parked round the back of the pub where it wasn’t visible, while we were only there for a short time. I didn’t expect it to be stolen.’

Friends have since rallied around with Paul borrowing a friend’s bike to get around. ‘My friends have been brilliant but I still hope to get the bike back,’ he said. ‘It is very distinctive so anyone seen riding it around Fareham would stand out.’

Paul admitted he is still coming to terms with his impaired vision after suddenly becoming affected. ‘I was with a friend in public when I saw someone who appeared to have no mouth. When I turned to friend he said the person looked totally normal,’ he said.

‘I also noticed gaps on other things like when I was reading my phone so I went to hospital to get it checked out. They did every test under the sun and found out I had swelling on the optic nerve.

‘But they couldn’t tell what caused it. I think it may have been a result of high blood pressure.’

But despite the setback, Paul is refusing to let the turn of events hold him back. He said: ‘It is very strange having patches in my vision which makes it harder to see things. You realise that you take your sight for granted but there are a lot of people worse off than me.’

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Paul’s partner Natalie added: ‘It’s been a big shock for both of us – suddenly everything changes.

‘But we have just had to accept it is one of those things that happens and have a laugh about things when possible like when he comes back with the wrong things from the shop.’

A police spokesman said: ‘We would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious or may have seen a lime green Cannondale bicycle, or been offered one for sale, to contact us on 101, quoting 44190431405.’