Fighting for Sight at the House of Commons

21 December 15

written by:

Heather Fanning

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Shrewsbury and Atcham MP supports eye research

Shrewsbury and Atcham MP, Daniel Kawczynski, hosted an event at the House of Commons for the UK’s main eye research charity, Fight for Sight, on Thursday 17 December to mark the charity’s 50th anniversary and to raise the importance of eye research.

Daniel, became a patron for the charity that aims to end sight loss in 2012. The event was attended by leading researchers, clinicians and Fight for Sight supporters who know first-hand the devastating impact of sight loss.

Daniel delivered a speech to the audience and introduced Emma Salisbury, from Welling, Kent, who spoke about her 15-year-old son’s own fight for sight. Tommy was diagnosed with a rare inherited retinal condition, called choroideremia, aged four.

Emma set up the Tommy Salisbury Choroideremia Fund, with her mum Dot Grindley, following Tommy’s diagnosis and the family has raised over £460k to date. The funds raised helped to support Professor Miguel Seabra’s research, at Imperial College London, which played a key role in identifying the function of the protein causing choroideremia.

Professor Seabra’s work enabled the world’s first gene-replacement therapy trial to take place, led by Professor Robert MacLaren, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford. Professor Robert MacLaren also attended the event along with one of the first patients to receive the treatment, Wayne Thompson, who was diagnosed with the condition aged 17. The clinical trial showed promising results and gives Tommy hope for the future.

Daniel said: “It’s essential to raise the importance of eye research. Whilst sight loss isn’t a life-threatening condition, it can have a devastating impact on someone’s life. With more funding to support Fight for Sight, it takes them a step closer to creating a future everyone can see.

"Hearing Emma and Tommy’s story and meeting other people affected by a number of sight related conditions, plus researchers that are trying to find a cure, was truly inspirational .I would urge people to join the fight for sight and support such a great cause.”

Fight for Sight’s CEO, Michele Acton, who also spoke at the event said: “Fight for Sight very much welcomes the generous support of Daniel Kawczynski MP in hosting this event. We have been able to thank many of our loyal supporters for their marvellous commitment to the fight for sight and to highlight some of the very significant research developments which they have helped bring about.”

View the photos from the event here