A close up of someone wearing eye test glasses and the words 'Funding visual impairment a landscape view'.

A new report highlights the need for more investment in sight research

Nystagmus Network’s Sue is proud to have played a small part in the work behind a new report, published by NPC today, into the lack of funding for visual impairment.

The key headlines of the report:

Our message 

  • Funders should give more money to medical research and systemic change to achieve greater long term impact for people living with sight loss. 
  • Eyesight is the sense people fear losing the most. Many consider it to be unpreventable, untreatable, even inevitable, meaning treatment is often sought too late. By giving more to medical research and working towards societal and policy change, funders could achieve greater long term impact for people living with sight loss. 

Philanthropy context 

  • At present, most money goes to services which improve quality of life – just 3% goes to research. These services are vitally important, but we shouldn’t neglect medical research and working towards systemic change – especially early stage research and areas where there is little profit incentive for pharmaceutical companies. 
  • Most charitable funding for visual impairment comes from legacies, fundraising appeals, subscriptions, government contracts, and the Lottery. It does not seem to be a popular cause among trusts, foundations, or philanthropists, with very few dedicated funding streams. More philanthropic funding therefore has the potential to make a huge difference in this sector. 
  • Giving more to medical research and systemic change needn’t be at the expense of frontline services. The visual impairment charity sector is small compared with other health sectors. The combined income of its top 16 charities is less than that of the single biggest cancer charity. There’s plenty of room for growth. 
  • We’ve published this review of the visual impairment sector to help funders better target their giving. For any issue you need a healthy balance between reactive and preventative work. There is a trade-off between having a relatively certain impact on a small number of people in the short term and having a much less certain impact on a huge number of beneficiaries (at the medical, society, or policy level) in the long term. 

Policy context 

  • The overall visual impairment sector in the UK is complex, overlapping with different aspects of the healthcare system, social care, and many other sectors – and there is no national strategy for eyecare.  

Facts about visual impairment 

  • More than two million people in Britain live with sight loss severe enough to significantly impact daily life, with the number expected to double by 2050. Of this, around 340,000 are registered blind or partially sighted. The leading causes are age-related macular degeneration (48%), glaucoma (16%), cataract (12%), retinitis pigmentosa (10%), and diabetic eye disease (8%). 

About this research 

  • This research covers six areas where philanthropic funding could make a difference: children and young people, working-age adults, older people, mental health and isolation, disabilities and learning difficulties, and medical research. It examines what the NHS and local government are already doing, and where philanthropy can add value. 

Download the full report here

A person wearing a doctor's white coat is testing a patient's eyes using clinical equipment.

The Fight for Sight/Nystagmus Network Small Grant Award

We are delighted to announce that the Nystagmus Network has jointly awarded two new nystagmus research grant awards with our funding partners Fight for Sight.

The two successful applicants are

  • Dr Mahesh Joshi at the University of Plymouth is carrying out a pilot study to investigate whether a new computer-based treatment approach can help improve vision for people with nystagmus.
  • Dr Mervyn Thomas at the University of Leicester is developing a new experimental model that could pave the way for the development of new treatments that can help improve vision for children with nystagmus.

Vivien Jones, Hon President of the Nystagmus Network and Chair of the Research Committee, said: “We are delighted to announce with our partners Fight for Sight our support for these exciting research projects. The work by Dr Mahesh Joshi and Asma Zahidi at Plymouth will hopefully significantly enhance knowledge about eye movements and, in the case of Dr Mervyn Thomas at Leicester, lead to an enhanced ability to test treatments for infantile nystagmus.”

To help ensure that the Nystagmus Network can continue to invest in nystagmus research, please consider making a donation to our research fund. Thank you.

Donate to our nystagmus research fund here

L-R Peter Greenwood, Marsha De Cordova MP (holding Nystagmus Network T-shirt, Harshal Kubavat.

Nystagmus Care Pathway published

Publication of Clinical Practice Points for managing nystagmus in childhood


The Nystagmus Network has welcomed the publication of new guidance on the management of nystagmus in children by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
The purpose of the Clinical Practice Points, now available on the Royal College website, is to provide a single point of reference for busy clinicians when managing patients with this complex eye condition.

The Practice Points can be found online here

The Nystagmus Network contributed to the development of the Practice Points through its membership of NUKE, the nystagmus UK eye research group. Members of NUKE worked together to develop a Nystagmus Care Pathway which sets guidelines on diagnosis and care for patients with nystagmus – the first time such guidelines have been created for this condition.

Vivien Jones, founder and Honorary President of the Nystagmus Network, said “The adoption of these guidelines means that clinicians can now refer to them when treating patients with nystagmus – something that we hope will lead to continuing improvements in developing standardisation of medical diagnosis and care.”

Clinician Jay Self, University of Southampton, an author of the Practice Points and founding member of NUKE said “Managing children with nystagmus can be complex and nuanced. By sharing best practice, in an easy to follow guide, we hope to improve all aspects of care for children and their families.”

Coinciding with the publication, Nystagmus Network trustees met Marsha De Cordova MP, who chairs the Eye Health and Visual Impairment All Party Parliamentary Working Group. Trustees were able to brief the MP, who herself has nystagmus, on the future impact of the work that has been done and the publication of the Practice Points.

Marsha is pictured above (centre) with Nystagmus Network trustees Peter Greenwood (left) and Harshal Kubavat (right).

NUKE logo

Next steps for NUKE

Your chance to influence the direction of UK nystagmus research

NUKE is the Nystagmus UK Eye research group. Members are currently researchers, clinicians, academics and patient support groups, including, of course, the Nystagmus Network.

Mission Statement

NUKE brings together the leading clinical and scientific expertise, experience and resources across the UK. Supported by patient groups we work to raise the profile of nystagmus and attract research funding. By collaborating and sharing data and ideas we aim to achieve the best possible clinical outcomes for patients, including the development of a Nystagmus Care Pathway.

As work on the Nystagmus Care Pathway is now complete, pending approval by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, NUKE plans to work on a new project. We would like to hear your views on where to focus our energies.

To voice your priorities for nystagmus research in the UK for the next two years, please take part in this short survey. Thank you.

NUKE research priority survey here

Nystagmus Champions of 2022

A Nystagmus Champion is someone who goes above and beyond to raise awareness of the condition, to raise funds or generally make life better for people living with nystagmus.

The Nystagmus Champions of 2022, announced at our virtual Open Day on 1 October are:

Lucy

Three images, showing Lucy holding her daughter; Maisie smiling at the camera and some chocolate cake.

Mum to Maisie and partner to Myles, we’re sure it’s no surprise to them that Lucy has been nominated as a Nystagmus Champion for her baking skills. We’re no Paul or Prue, but we know that there must be something very special about Lucy’s cakes and about Lucy, herself. Earlier this year, Lucy took on a 12-hour bake-a-thon, making everything from Lemon Drizzle cake to chocolate brownies. She did get Maisie’s nursery to join in, too, but baked most of the cakes herself, making full use of her two ovens at home. She raised a lot of awareness and a phenomenal £2,000. Well done, Lucy! And thank you!

Khalil

A group of people wearing Nystagmus Network T-shirts standing with their backs to the camera outside a branch of Specsavers.

Back in June we took a call from an enthusiastic young man. He said he’d like to take part in Nystagmus Awareness Day and could we please send him some T-shirts. This was Khalil. As we chatted, he revealed that he had nystagmus himself. He also shared that he was the Assistant Manager of the Leicester branch of Specsavers. What a tremendous achievement! Khalil has been nominated as a Nystagmus Champion of 2022 for persuading his entire staff team to wear Nystagmus Network T-shirts and wristbands on Nystagmus Awareness Day and sharing the photos across the local press and social media. Thank you, Khalil. We are so grateful for your support.

Tracy

Tracy wearing a Nystagmus Network T-shirt, posing for the camera with her son.

2022 was not the first time that Tracy chose to do something energetic for the nystagmus cause. But this time it was particularly strenuous. She took part in the full Ironman. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run. Yes, that’s right. That last bit is a marathon! Despite picking up a knee injury in training, Tracy completed the challenge and raised £1,500 in the process, making her family and especially her son, Alfie, very proud indeed. Thank you, Tracy for all the energy. You are a Nystagmus Champion.

Charlie

Charlie with members of his football team outside the football club, wearing their Nystagmus Network branded sports tops.

7-year-old Charlie has nystagmus. He’s also a huge football fan and one to watch for the future, we think. When his cub team were looking for sponsorship for their kit, young Charlie decided to write to his Mum’s bank. They would have plenty of money! Luke, the bank manager took part in a triathlon and raised the sum needed, but then he asked Charlie to nominate a charity whose logo should appear on the kit. And this is how the boys got their Nystagmus Network sports tops. And don’t they look smart! We’re not sure how the tops have helped with goal scoring, but we’re sure that Charlie has a stellar career ahead of him. Congratulations, Charlie.

A row of people stand outside Specsavers wearing Nystagmus Network T-shirts.

Leicester optician puts nystagmus in Focus

Having nystagmus hasn’t stopped Leicester’s Khalil Musani from forging a career in optics and helping others look after their eyes

When Khalil secured a Saturday job at a Leicester opticians in 2017 it proved to be the catalyst to fulfilling his ambition to work in optometry. 

Now, aged 21, and assistant manager at Specsavers Leicester, Khalil wants to raise awareness of nystagmus, the condition he has lived with for most of his life, alongside building a career in optics.

On Nystagmus Awareness Day 2022, Khalil and his entire staff team donned Nystagmus Network T-shirts and wristbands to raise awareness of nystagmus and support the work of the charity.

For his tremendous support, raising awareness of nystagmus and to honour his career success, the Nystagmus Network has nominated Khalil one of the ‘nystagmus champions’ of 2022. Join us to celebrate Khalil and all the nystagmus champions of 2022 at Open Day.

Khalil’s inspiring story has been told in local press articles in print and online.

Read a Leicester Times article online here

Nystagmus Network members hold up their voting cards.

Notice of the Nystagmus Network AGM

Following the announcement of a further national rail strike on Saturday 1 October, charity trustees have been obliged to take both Open Day and the AGM online. Notice is hereby amended that the Annual General Meeting (the “Meeting”) of THE NYSTAGMUS NETWORK (the “Charitable Incorporated Organisation or CIO”) will be held online on Saturday 1 October 2022 at 1:45pm.

Members have been emailed the revised agenda which includes the Zoom link to join the meeting. Members have also already received a copy of the Annual Review 2021, including the signed accounts and the minutes from last year’s meeting. If you are unable to attend the meeting online and would like to vote by proxy, please email us at [email protected] to confirm.

Thank you.

On behalf of Tim Cuddeford
Chair of Trustees, Nystagmus Network

If you would like to join us as a member and enjoy the right to vote as well as other member-only benefits, please visit our membership webpage. Thank you.

Jay Self and Mike Larcombe at University Hospital Southampton. Mike wears a Nystagmus Network T-shirt and his Te Araroa medal.

Nystagmus Network invests £17,000 in research

Nystagmus Network trustees donated £17,000 to the paediatric fund of the University of Southampton’s Gift of Sight appeal last December thanks to the generosity of our fundraisers and supporters.

Someone who contributed more than most is Southampton-born Mike Larcombe who, in 2020 completed his Walk for Wiggly Eyes, a three and a half month long adventure following the Te Araroa pathway and then, in 2021, cycled all around Tasmania for his Wiggly Walk 2.

In total to date Mike has raised a phenomenal £6,500 for nystagmus research.

THANK YOU, MIKE!

The £17,000 is being used to fund a hand-held RETeval device, an imaging tool which will help diagnose changes that may impact a patient’s vision, and four Cervical Range-of-Motion instruments (CROM) to measure head postures.

The new equipment will be used in both the clinics and the research labs at University Hospital Southampton.

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Jay Self said: “This funding will have immediate impact on children with nystagmus in addition to providing a small equipment contribution to allow our larger clinical trial to be funded and approved by NIHR.”

Mike Larcombe with Jay, Helena, Harsh and Sue at University Hospital Southampton.

Meet me in Southampton

This August the Nystagmus Network was finally able to meet with and celebrate the incredible achievements of a true nystagmus superhero, Mike Larcombe.

From December 2019 and for a total of three and a half months, Mike walked the entire length of New Zealand (yes! the North and the South Island!) following the Te Araroa pathway to raise funds for nystagmus research and awareness of the condition.

Along the way he endured very wet feet, a constantly rumbling tummy and often only the company of chickens!

As if that were not enough, in 2021 he was at it again, cycling (and singing!) all the way around Tasmania.

In total Mike has raised a whopping £6,500 for nystagmus research!

His feet were nice and dry this week as he chatted with Jay Self and Helena Lee, researchers and clinicians at University Hospital in Mike’s home town of Southampton along with Harshal Kubavat and Sue Ricketts from the Nystagmus Network. During their visit the group toured the clinics and research labs to find out where some of that hard earned fundraising money goes.

A postcard promoting the Nystagmus Network Open Day 2022 on Saturday 1 October in Sheffield.

Open Day 2022 – secure your ticket today!

Booking is now open for the Nystagmus Network Open Day on Saturday 1 October in Sheffield.

In the historic grandeur of the Cutlers’ Hall, hear the latest thinking on nystagmus support, research and treatment, meet clinicians face to face and ask anything you like, seek one-to-one advice on education, employment or benefits, hear fabulous speakers and, most importantly, meet people living with nystagmus.

For one whole day you don’t have to explain nystagmus!

Book your ticket here