Fight for Sight on World Sight Day – “look me in the eye and say we can’t do more”

05 October 17

written by:

Press Office

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Fight for Sight, the UK’s leading eye research charity, is using World Sight Day - 12 October 2017 - to launch a hard hitting campaign highlighting the need for more funding for sight saving research. The charity is currently only able to fund one out of every eight research project proposals it receives due to lack of funding.

Fight for Sight’s Chief Executive, Michele Acton, said: “Research funded by Fight for Sight has benefitted so many people but we know we can do more – and we want to.”

Among the volunteers lending their voice to the campaign is Red Szell (pronounced “sail”) who lives with a degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa (RP). There is currently no treatment or cure for RP, which can be caused by mutations in many different genes. Research has led to the identification of many of these genes and investment in research is now focussed on developing new treatments (e.g. gene therapy) to stop people with RP losing their sight.

Red is a published author and claims the distinction of being the first blind person to climb the Old Man of Hoy, a 449-foot sandstone stack in the Orkney Islands. As part of the campaign, Red is challenging the chronic lack of funding currently going into eye research and asking people to: “Look me in the eye and say that we can’t do more.”

Fight for Sight also has support from four-year-old Sienna and Catherine, her Mum. Catherine gave birth to twins, Sienna and Joshua, in 2012. They were premature at 28 weeks and after spending weeks in hospital found out – in the week in which they were due to be discharged - that Sienna’s eyes hadn’t formed correctly. Sienna’s eye condition is called retinopathy of prematurity and has left her with only a small pocket of light perception in her left eye. She relies on a white cane when out and about. Catherine says: “Without support or funding, there is no research. Without research, there is no hope for Sienna and so many others living with sight loss.”

Fight for Sight is also working with Debbie White who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Usher syndrome II which causes progressive vision loss and hearing impairment. Debbie said: “When you start losing your sight, you start losing your independence.” Debbie’s challenge, as part of the Fight for Sight campaign, is: “How would you feel if it was your sight on the line? It’s the sense people fear losing the most. So look me in the eye and tell me we can’t do better.”

Fight for Sight is funding 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


- ENDS -

Contact:

Elaine Cooper, Head of Press and PR, Fight for Sight

Direct line: 020 7264 3910 | E-mail: elaine@fightforsight.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Fight for Sight is following up the World Sight Day campaign with its first ever national tv advertising campaign. The ad, which features Red, Sienna, Catherine and Debbie, will air later this year.

• Red is in his 40s, originally from Sussex, now living in London

• Sienna and her Mum, Catherine, are from St Albans in Hertfordshire

• Debbie lives in Warwick

The Fight for Sight ad also features other volunteers 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 to them. If you would like to request an interview with or quote from one of our volunteers, please let the Press Office know. In addition to those mentioned above, Fight for Sight has also worked with:

• Nathan, 15, from East Sussex – lives with keratoconus and has had surgery on both eyes.

• Hesper, 8, and Galya, her Mum, who live in Kent - Hesper 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.

• Laura, 34, born in Nottinghamshire, now based in Leeds – diagnosed in 2008 with Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition. Laura is an international DJ and known for her signature sunglasses.

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

World Sight Day is organised every year by The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). The slogan for each World Sight Day is: “make vision count”. More information about World Sight Day: https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-sight-day/world-sight-day-2017/

Fight for Sight social media: https://www.facebook.com/fightforsightuk or https://twitter.com/FightforsightUK