Red's fight for sight

25 September 17

written by:

Yewande Omoniyi

(more articles)

Red’s story living with retinitis pigmentosa

Red Szell's fight for sight

Red Széll grew up in rural West Sussex on a diet of classic adventure and crime stories. After studying English at Cambridge and a brief spell working as a mortuary porter he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism.

Red was diagnosed with a degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa when he was 19 years old. 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’s loss of sight hasn’t stop him for living his life to the full. His debut crime novel ‘Blind Trust’ was published in 2011. In 2013 he became the first blind person to climb The Old Man of Hoy, at 450 feet Europe’s tallest sea stack. The ascent was filmed by the BBC and his account of how and why he decided to tackle this Orcadian rock monster was published in ‘The Blind Man of Hoy’.

A stay-at-home dad since the first of his two daughters was born in 2000 he divides his time between writing, climbing and housework.

Joining the fight for sight, 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.”

Retinitis pigmentosa

What is it?

Retinitis pigmentosa is the name given to a group of inherited disorders that affect the light-sensitive part of the eye (the retina). It is the most common inherited eye condition, affecting 1 in 4000 people.

Find out more