“What I’d like for Christmas…” – a call to join the Fight for Sight

06 December 17

written by:

Press Office

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Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity, is launching a campaign highlighting the need for more funding for sight saving research. Among the campaign’s stars is eight-year-old Hesper who says: “What I want for Christmas is for everyone to be able to see all the colours of the world.”

Hesper Holden, from Beckenham in Kent, lives with unexplained low vision. She showed signs of sight loss at just 2 years old. Her eyes have not developed properly and despite numerous tests, the cause of her visual impairment is still unknown.

Hesper and her Mum, Galya, want to help highlight the difference research could make. That’s why they’ve lent their voices to Fight for Sight’s “look me in the eye” campaign to raise awareness of the need for more research. Fight for Sight is currently only able to fund one out of every eight research proposals it receives due to lack of funding.

Galya and Hesper also starred last night [5 December 2017] at the Fight for Sight Christmas carol concert held at the church of St Stephen Walbrook in central London. Hesper gave a beautiful reading of the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas”, more affectionately known as “Twas the night before Christmas…”.

Hesper has campaigned for more funding for research for some time. She and her older brother, Henry, took on the Mini Mudder last year (the Mini Mudder is a shorter version of Tough Mudder), raising over £2500! Galya explained why supporting research is so important: “As the mother of a child who is living with a visual impairment for unknown reasons, the value of research to us cannot be over-estimated. Knowledge is power and that is why we feel as a family it is important to support the research efforts of Fight for Sight.”

Fight for Sight funds research to stop sight loss caused by both common and rare eye diseases and conditions. These include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, inherited eye diseases and the causes of childhood sight loss. Research that has been funded by Fight for Sight has resulted in:
• the identification of new genes responsible for glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, keratoconus and other corneal disorders, and Nance-Horan syndrome
• the world’s first clinical trial of a treatment (a gene therapy) for choroideremia, an inherited condition that causes blindness in men
• the design of a new test that can detect the early stages of sight loss in age-related macular degeneration

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Notes to editors:
Galya Holden, Hesper’s Mum, is open to being contacted for additional quotes or brief interviews. If you would like to request an interview, please let the Press Office know (details above).

Fight for Sight is the leading UK charity dedicated to funding pioneering research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease.

Fight for Sight’s overall research commitments amount to £8m for over 159 research projects at 44 different universities and hospitals across the UK.

In 2015/16 grants awarded during the year amounted to £3m – this was only funding 1 in 8 of the research applications received.

Fight for Sight’s “look me in the eye” campaign includes their first ever television advertising. The adverts feature six volunteers, including Hesper, who live with different eye disease and sight loss conditions. They have been happy to tell their story and help people understand the difference that research could make.