Rt Hon Baroness Betty Boothroyd raises awareness of eye research underfunding

01 August 18

written by:

Press Office

(more articles)

The Rt Hon Baroness Boothroyd is launching a Fight for Sight campaign to raise awareness of eye health and the need for vital eye research.

The former Speaker of the House of Commons will kick off the campaign by appearing in a BBC Radio 4 appeal which will be broadcast on Sunday 5 August 2018.

She will be raising awareness of sight loss and highlighting the impact that it has on over two million people in the UK, a figure that is set to double by 2050. Despite this, eye disease is a desperately under-funded area of research in the UK. Fight for Sight figures show that eye research only received 1% of overall public grant spending in 2016/17.

Rt Hon Baroness Boothroyd, said: “I'm supporting Fight for Sight because this is an issue close to my heart and I know the impact that sight loss can have on people and their families.

“The answer lies in research - research breakthroughs have already led to pioneering treatments that have changed lives and yet this remains a desperately underfunded area. Most people will know someone affected by sight loss so I hope as many people as possible will hear the appeal and feel able to donate towards much needed research.”

Rosemary Hallsworth, who is eighty years old, also features in the broadcast. Three generations of her family have lived with age-related macular degeneration, a condition that is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK.

She said: “I remember my mother living with macular degeneration and how it robbed her of the ability to perform everyday tasks like embroidery and preparing meals. I now have difficulty with things like reading and sewing and I worry about my independence as my eyesight deteriorates. Recently my daughter has been diagnosed too. My worry is for the future and for my granddaughters. I fully support more research being done so that they won’t be affected by this disease.”

Michele Acton, Chief Executive of Fight for Sight said: “Fight for Sight’s vision is simple. We believe in a future everyone can see and we want to stop sight loss. Our main way of achieving this is through funding pioneering research.

“We currently have eight million pounds invested in over 160 research projects but still can only fund one in every eight research applications. Gene therapy, stem cells, drug treatments and technology offer hope for the future – but there is much more work to be done.”

Fight for Sight research has so far resulted in breakthroughs including the identification of new genes responsible for glaucoma, the world’s first clinical trial of a gene therapy for choroideremia and the design of a new test that can detect the early stages of sight loss in age-related macular degeneration.

Fight for Sight’s broadcast with Baroness Boothroyd and Rosemary Hallsworth will be broadcast on Sunday 5 August at 7.55 and 21.26 and on Thursday 9 August at 15.27. Find out more about the broadcast and how to make a donation here.