National Eye Research Centre is delighted to be the nominated charity partner for the Big Blind Walk in 2018, when Julian Jackson, founder and director of the social enterprise VisionBridge, will walk almost 1,000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats during an eight week epic journey.

Julian Jackson, founder of VisionBridge

Julian lost his sight in 2010 to a retinal inherited disease and has a personal and professional interest in the daily battles being waged in hospitals and universities across the UK to prevent sight loss, treat eye disease, restore sight and improve the quality of life for patients through enhanced rehabilitation.

He comments: “In the face of so much scientific progress, the usual barriers to maintaining a chosen livelihood, mobility, independence and emotional well being as well as enjoying travel and leisure activities will continue to dissipate. We need to get out there and give eye research a profile that is noticeable, create an image that is recognisable, speak in a language that is understandable and build a context that is inspirational!”

Julian says he aims to use the walk to:

  • Raise awareness and understanding of sight loss amongst diverse, sighted communities currently unknown and untouched by the voluntary sector
  • Drive vision and eye health up the public health agenda
  • Promote the critical role that eye research plays in the prevention of sight loss, treatment of eye disease, rehabilitation of patients and the restoration of sight
  • Establish a fellowship fund to help the UK research community retain the best brains in eye research and sustain the momentum behind the astonishing advances already achieved.

He plans, subject to contract, to divide money raised 75% to National Eye Research Centre and 25% to VisionBridge, which is a social enterprise whose objectives are to promote eye research, raise awareness of sight loss and signpost donations to appropriate eye research funders.

Commenting on the partnership Mike Daw, Chief Executive of National Eye Research Centre said, "We are delighted to be nominated as the official charity partner of the BigBlindWalk. Julian’s epic walk will help draw attention to the chronic underfunding of research into eye disease, sight loss and blindness in the UK. It is always surprising that, despite sight loss being feared second only to a cancer diagnosis, less than 2% of all medical research funding is directed at sight loss. The Big Blind Walk 2018 will help raise awareness of this issue and improve funding for eye research. We applaud Julian’s fantastic commitment to this challenge.”

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