TV presenter turned novelist, Judy Finnigan, will be the face of a new BBC Lifeline appeal for Fight for Sight, the main UK charity that’s dedicated to funding pioneering eye research to prevent sight loss and treat eye disease.

Judy was keen to support the charity after seeing her mother lose her sight to Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the most common form of sight loss in the over 60’s, when she was in her mid-seventies. Judy’s greatest fear is losing her own sight and she has already received emergency eye operations to prevent her sight from deteriorating.

In 2010 Judy had a detached retina in her right eye and had to have several eye operations to correct this. On top of this she has had to have an operation to close a hole that had opened in the macula, as a result of the first procedure.

Judy said: "I’ve witnessed first-hand the devastation that sight loss can cause, seeing my mother lose her confidence was heart-breaking. My own experience was extremely difficult and it makes you fully appreciate your sight. It’s something I will never take for granted.

“There are some great support charities helping people living with sight loss but Fight for Sight is unique. It’s the main one out there funding research to prevent future generations from losing their sight. I would encourage people to dig deep and help support this worthy cause.”

Fight for Sight is currently investing £8m into eye research at 35 universities and hospitals across the country.

Michele Acton, Fight for Sight’s Chief Executive said: "I’m grateful that Judy is the face of the appeal. With her first-hand experience of sight loss, she can fully relate to our supporters. Due to the lack of research funding, Fight for Sight can only support one in six research applications and we’re having to turn down key projects.

“Thank you to Judy and the BBC for choosing Fight for Sight for their Lifeline appeal. I can not stress how important your money will be in making a difference, allowing us to continue funding pioneering eye research.”

The appeal will also feature some of the research Fight for Sight is funding and the people that this research will benefit.

Belinda Wilkinson, 78, from Suffolk who like Judy’s late mother and Dame Judi Dench has AMD. In Belinda’s case, her sight is blurred in her left eye and she has lost her central vision in her right eye.

Professor Steve Moss at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology is leading one of these research projects. His research explores AMD and the complement proteins that alter the characteristics of the retinal cells.

The Salisbury family, from Kent, is also taking part including Emma Salisbury and her 14-year-old son, Tommy. Tommy was diagnosed with Choroideremia, an inherited condition that affects one in 50,000 people worldwide when he was five years old. This will lead to progressive loss of vision. There is currently no cure.

Professor Robert MacLaren from Oxford University will be featured talking about leading the world’s first gene-replacement clinical trial for Choroideremia. Without initial funds from the Salisbury family via Fight for Sight the trial wouldn’t have been possible. The findings have already shown promising results.

The appeal will be shown on BBC One, Sunday 20 April at 5pm and is repeated BBC Two Thursday 24 April at 9.45am.

Donations for the BBC appeal will open immediately after airing via phone, online, and post. For donations in the meantime, please contact Fight for Sight directly on 0207 264 3900 or visit www.fightforsight.org.uk

Source: Fight for Sight

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