Why is the research important?
Finding cures for blindness will be one of history’s great achievements, and here in Ireland, we’re leading the way. Most of the research funded by Fighting Blindness is at the cutting edge of science, in the fields of gene therapy and adult stem cell technology. Today’s research is tomorrow’s medicine. Learn more about our five pillars of research here.
How close are you to finding a cure?
Many of the projects we fund have made significant advancements in the understanding of eye disease and the various treatment options available—and some are nearing the human clinical trial stage. Bringing treatments from the lab to the patient can take a long time, as their safety and efficacy must be thoroughly tested. It is our priority to make treatments available as quickly and safely as possible.
How many people could your work help?
There are an estimated 246,773 people in Ireland (285 million around the world) live with a degenerative eye condition.
What are your research projects?
Our research teams look into cures and treatments for blindness caused by inherited, age-related and rare conditions. Over the past three decades, we have funded dozens of studies in Irish and UK institutions. The main pillars of our research are genes and gene therapy, cells and cell technology, epidemiology and population studies, bionics and implants, and bio-pharmaceutical products.
How did Ireland become a world leader in this field?
Fighting Blindness started in 1983 as a group of families affected by degenerative eye disease coming together for support. Over the past thirty years, we have grown into a global leader in the search for cures and treatments for blindness.
In 1989, researchers funded by Fighting Blindness discovered the first gene known to cause retinitis pigmentosa (RP). In 2011, that same lab received €5 million in venture capital funding to bring a treatment for RP to clinical trials.
Often the causes of degenerative eye conditions are genetic, and as Ireland has a history of big families, it made it easier to trace the course of these diseases. In 2011, Fighting Blindness began funding a research project to investigate the particular form of RP in one large Irish family in the hopes that it could bring about a better understanding of the condition.
What’s the process you have to go through to find a cure or treatment?
Researchers have to understand what causes the eye condition before they can work out how to fix it through laboratory tests. If the treatment has shown success in the laboratory, researchers then conduct human clinical trials, which follow three stages: 1) testing for safety, 2) testing for efficacy, and 3) determining whether the new treatment is better than all others available on the market. If those three steps are successful, the treatment will go through rigorous licensing processes before it is allowed on the market. This journey from bench to bedside may take decades, but it is vitally important that all medical research be tested for safety before the treatment reaches the patient.
I was recently diagnosed. What can you tell me about my condition?
We are here to support you through every step of your journey. You will find information about many conditions on the Eye Conditions section of our website. For further information about your condition you can contact our Research Manager Dr Laura Brady on 01-6789 004 or email@example.com.
Are there eye diseases Fighting Blindness do not research?
We fund research into rare, genetic, age-related and degenerative conditions eye conditions that affect an estimated 246,773 adults and children in Ireland and 285 million worldwide.
However there are many other conditions that cause blindness, such as cataracts, river blindness and trachoma. Fighting Blindness does not currently fund research into these areas, as many of them can be cured by existing treatments, and other organisations already work in these areas.
Could you tell me more about your counselling service?
Our free counselling service, Insight Counselling is here for everyone affected by sight loss. Whether you’re losing your sight or you’re blind or partially sighted, our practical and emotional support can help you face the future with confidence.
We also run a number of peer to peer quality of life initiatives such as the Visionaries School of the Arts and the Exchange Club. New members are most welcome. To get in touch about counselling or peer to peer support please contact John or Ann on 01 6789004 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How much money do you have to raise each year?
This year Fighting Blindness must raise €1.9 million to continue to fund our vision research projects and community services and supports.
How are you funded?
We receive 10% state funding from the HSE which is put towards our counselling service. We must raise the balance of 90% through regular giving donations, private members draw, community events, corporate support and challenges. Many thanks to our wonderful donors for their kindness and support.
How can I get involved?
There are so many ways you can get involved!
I was contacted by someone asking if I wanted to join the monthly draw?
Our Private Members’ Draw is a monthly draw with lots of great prizes up for grabs!
If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at 01 6789 004 or email@example.com and we will be happy to help you.