Julian Jackson, (pictured at 100% Optical, one of his major sponsors, became totally blind in 2010 having been told as a young child that he had Retinitis Pigmentosa and would be blind one day.
His life with that threat hanging over him and his eventual blindness has created the determined man he is today.
To convey the message to others on how people with threatening vision loss could be so much better treated by professionals, optometrists, ophthalmologists and the social services has become his life passion.
After his first senseless visit to a faith healer as a child after the diagnosis and of course the many further visits to optometrists and ophthalmologists as his condition reduced his peripheral vision and night blindness set in and became a problem in his international travels as an events organiser at no point did he receive any help or direction as to who or what organisation could assist him to cope with the development of his disease.
This is not uncommon and neither the medical, primary care or social services seem clued up on what help is available.
Julian became totally blind over a period of three weeks in 2010. Through his own efforts he has located services like Orcam the “visual to verbal” system that allows him to read books, menus and participate in the world.
As he says, “very little news about the successes of international research or appliances in dealing with blinding disease is ever published. There is a tremendous effort from gene therapy research, Argus II implants and an array of useful devices being developed and still much else in the pipeline. We need to raise money to assist in the development of new research and raise the level of understanding and commitment of those in a position in primary care to offer advice and get involved.”
His sponsors Second Sight and 100% Optical are assisting him in his “Big Blind Walk” and the money raised will be shared between his charity, Vision Bridge and the National Eye Research Centre who will be receiving 70% of all money raised.
Vision Bridge will use its share to raise the understanding of vision loss and promote the continuation of early research that needs greater pump priming to move it forward.
“There are some great success stories out there with over 300 ocular implants in the world, two of the recipients of which will be on the Big Blind Walk with me”, said Julian when we met him at 100% Optical..
You can find out more in an interview by Peter White on Radio 4 tomorrow evening (Wednesday 31/01) and the walk will be trailed by a Countryfile Edition on BBC1 on April 13th before it commences at Land’s End on 29th April on its way to John O’Groats taking 7 weeks to complete 1000 miles.
Julian informs us that there will be some very important public faces joining him along the way, but we are sworn to secrecy.
Your Opchat News has been requested to join Vision Bridge as co-media partners for the lead up to and throughout the walk. We will provide links to his site and track his progress along the way and keep you updated as the walk progresses.
We will provide a Vision Bridge Big Blind Walk page linking to his own site and his sponsors and simple links to help you and your customers and patients support his efforts.
We will do the same on PHN’s public pages at Mylocaloptician.co.uk