The University of Southampton

Gift of Sight needs your votes to continue vital child sight loss research

14 June 2017
Eye problems
Developing agreater understanding of the genetic causes for some eye problems in children and babies

Gift of Sight is appealing to all its friends and supporters to vote online to help them win a grant that will fund further research into treating childhood sight disorders.

The charity, based at the University of Southampton, funds research that uses new techniques to develop a greater understanding of the genetic causes for some eye problems in children and babies.

Gift of Sight is hoping to receive a £25,000 Community Award from the Freemasons, but will only be successful if they receive enough online votes.

As part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations, the Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country in grants ranging from £4,000 to £25,000. Each of the nominated charities will receive a grant, but the public vote will determine how much they receive.

The voting period starts on Monday 12 June and runs until the end of July. People wanting to vote should visit and select the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Province page and vote for Gift of Sight. 

Children’s eye problems come in many forms, ranging from disorders affecting the growth of the eye as a whole through specific retinal diseases to complex neurological eye movement problems.

Many are congenital, many are associated with problems in other parts of the body, and most are poorly understood. 

Children’s sight develops over the first few years of life so early diagnosis and treatment is vital to achieve the best outcome. 

The project put forward for voting in the Freemasons’ Community Awards is to continue research led by Mr Jay Self, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, to help babies and young children receive the best possible treatment for their condition. 

For example, one research project will use cutting-edge genetic testing methods – screening 7,000 genes in a single test – for babies with congenital eye diseases. This will reduce the number of invasive tests children will have to undergo, permit an accurate diagnosis for the first time and direct access to existing treatments much earlier, saving the vision of babies and children.

Another project is to assess the issue of potential funding restrictions on surgery for children with squints.

Ailsa Walter, Manager at Gift of Sight, said: “One in five children are born with an eye condition which, if left untreated, will cause vision loss. It is vital that the best possible chance of sight is delivered to babies and young children before the age of five to allow their brains to ‘learn to see’, to enable learning and social inclusion. A grant of £25,000 would make a huge difference to our work and what we are able to achieve. I would like to encourage anyone to go online and vote for Gift of Sight – every single vote counts.”

The Masonic Charitable Foundation obtains all of its funding from Freemasons and their families.  It is estimated that half of Freemasonry’s total charitable expenditure of over £33m goes to charities that help people in communities across the country.  Gift of Sight has benefited from this generosity in the past and is very grateful for the support received.

Michael Wilks, Provincial Grand Master from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Freemasons, said: “We are proud to be able to support many charities across the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Province but in this special 300th anniversary year we want to involve the public, as well as local Freemasons, in deciding which of the nominated charities should benefit most. I urge everyone to visit the website and vote.”

To vote for Gift of Sight to win up to £25,000 visit and select the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Province page and vote for Gift of Sight. The voting period is from Monday 12 June until Monday, 31 July

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