Trekking through Middle Earth for nystagmus research

Follow Mike’s wiggly progress on his Facebook page, here and donate to his Nystagmus Network fundraising page, here.

A sight-impaired young Englishman, Mike Larcombe, is preparing to trek across New Zealand to raise money for a complex eye condition that blurs his vision.

Mike has nystagmus, which he refers to as “wiggly eyes” and so does his young nephew.

Born in Southampton, UK, Mike has lived more recently in Australia and spent holidays in New Zealand. He says:

“I have a deep respect for New Zealand, having spent several months there on a working holiday previously. I relish the chance to do something positive to help others with nystagmus. ”

Mike will set off from Bluff at the tip of the South Island on 16 December to hike along the Te Araroa or Long Pathway trail, all the way up to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island.

He expects to be walking for 4.5-6 months, wearing through about 6 pairs of shoes. He’ll be camping and staying in huts and hostels along the trail, paying his respects to Maori culture, while raising funds for the nystagmus community.

The funds raised will go to nystagmus charities in New Zealand and Britain for research and support – the Blind & Low Vision NZ, Nystagmus Network and Gift of Sight. All 3 charities are working towards a better understanding of the condition and, ultimately, to find a cure.

Mike says he wants to demonstrate to other people with nystagmus, including his 2-year-old nephew, Archie in Britain that they can still live rich, full lives.

Despite his much-restricted vision, Mike graduated as an electronics engineer. He has been working in Brisbane, but has resigned for the trek.

“While I’m unable to drive a car because I can’t see far enough to qualify for a licence, I can work closeup on complex electronics equipment,” said Mike.

“I’m confident I’ll be able to wind my way safely through the land many people around the globe now know as Middle Earth. If I do stray from the path, I’m sure a friendly Hobbit or local Kiwi will guide me in the right direction.”

“When you have restricted vision, other senses come into play – smell, touch and sound in particular.”

“I image myself absorbing those other stimuli as I lightly tread the earth through the islands of New Zealand – a very special place with an incredibly rich culture.”

You can follow Mike’s wiggly progress on his Facebook page, here and donate to his Nystagmus Network fundraising page, here.

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