Category Archives: Marching for Moorfields

Marching for Moorfields: the results!

No, I’m not referring to the GIANT blister I acquired as a consequence of our 14-mile sponsored walk from Moorfields Eye Hospital to the London Eye back in March, but rather the REALLY IMPORTANT results.  For example…

  • 64 generous supporters sponsored my sister and I in our trek across London to raise money for sight-saving research.  Huge thanks to everyone who supported us – I can’t tell you how much we appreciated it!  🙂
  • This enabled us to raise a total of £1,656, plus £270 in Gift Aid.
  • We beat our final target of £1,400 (£100 per mile) by 18%.
  • Our original target was £250, so it just goes to show what can be achieved when you go all-out in harassing friends, family, and work colleagues for sponsorship for a worthy cause.
  • Over 770 people took part in Eye to Eye 2016.
  • The whole event raised over £155,000.
  • All of the money raised will fund pioneering research at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Moorfields Eye Charity has given me a few examples of some of the projects which the fundraising has supported, as follows:

  • A PhD research project, looking at visual crowding in congenital nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), bringing together multidisciplinary expertise from the UCL experimental psychology department and Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre.
  • A project aimed at delivering the world’s first keratoconus genome-wide association study to identify genetic risk factors for developing the disease.  This project will utilise a bank of genetic data which has been collected at Moorfields over a number of years and holds the potential to make a substantial step forward in understanding this condition, enabling Moorfields to identify people at risk of it and intervene earlier to preserve their sight.
  • A small proof of principle study to develop a smartphone app which will demonstrate, through interactive 3D videos, results of eye examinations so that individuals can ‘show’ their family, carers and friends what it is like to have their type of sight loss.

The charity will have another grants round in due course, at which grants will be awarded for more research and also for some diagnostic equipment used to take cellular images of the front of the eye.  Stand by for further updates, and in the meantime please start stashing your spare cash as we’re planning on taking part in Eye to Eye 2017… (yikes!)  😮

Marching for Moorfields: Eye to Eye!

After weeks of pestering our friends, family, and work colleagues to sponsor us in our grand challenge of walking 14 miles from Moorfields Eye Hospital to the London Eye on a very circuitous route, in order to raise money for Moorfields Eye Charity, the big day finally dawned.  Due to South Western Trains’ audacity in planning engineering work on the day of Eye to Eye, my sister and I had to catch a very early train to ensure we were at the hospital for our start time.  On the three previous occasions of catching a horribly early train up to Moorfields, two were for planned eye surgery and the third was for an emergency appointment which led to my fifth lot of eye surgery.  I therefore spent the first hour of the day feeling slightly sick.  “You’re-not-going-for-surgery-you’re-not-going-for-surgery-you’re-not-going-for-surgery-you’re-NOT!”, I silently repeated to myself.

My taut nerves only began to slacken somewhat when, upon arriving at Brookwood station, we noticed someone sporting an Eye to Eye t-shirt getting out of a car opposite.  “Look!”, exclaimed my sister in the most energetic tone of voice I’ve ever heard from her at such an early hour.  We’d no sooner clambered out of the car when our fellow Moorfields supporter was making a beeline for us, asking if she could join us as she was on her own.  “Yes, yes, of course!”, we agreed with alacrity.  We settled down on the train for the extended journey due to engineering works (grrrr!) and the time passed rapidly as we exchanged stories.  She had undergone squint surgery in 2008 and had suffered retinal detachments in both eyes, but Moorfields had worked their magic and she had finally been discharged in March last year.  She had taken part in the Eye to Eye walk in 2015 and had signed up again this year as a way of saying thank you to them for saving her sight.

Upon arrival at the hospital, we were issued with maps, tracking numbers, and much-needed caffeinated beverages.  After half an hour or so spent peering at the map and chomping at the bit, we were set on our way along with a large group of other walkers, whom we rapidly lost within the first few minutes.  Orange arrows were strategically placed on lamp posts and railings along the route, providing much-needed reassurance for those of us with absolutely no sense of direction and a distinct lack of map-reading skills.  After a confusing few minutes spent fighting our way through crowds of people in Camden Food Market, we came across a very friendly couple who lived in London.  “We must follow them – they’re local!”, I instructed my sister, after the trauma of getting slightly lost in the market.  Fortunately, there was no problem with this as we got talking and continued as a group of five for the rest of the way.

As we chatted, I learnt that one of our new walking buddies had suffered a retinal detachment in December.  He saw some flashing lights each time he moved his eyes and thought it would be nothing but went to Moorfields just to get it checked out.  He was disgnosed with a detachment and by the next morning (a Sunday!), he was undergoing surgery.  Fortunately the operation was a success, but it was clear how much of a shock the whole experience had been for both of them, and how grateful they were to Moorfields staff for their calmness and expertise throughout the whole ordeal.

We strolled past London Zoo, admired the boats in Little Venice, and continued plodding along the canal, only pausing briefly to explain our mission to a few people who stopped us to enquire with puzzled faces, “What’s Eye to Eye?”, or, on another occasion, “Excuse me, which eye are you walking from and to?”.  Eventually, we made it to the half-way point, where we were ticked off the list and rewarded with apples and jelly sweets.  (Other treats were available.)  Our walking buddies fround a wall where we were able to sit for a few minutes and take the weight off our feet.  The organisers at the half-way stop helpfully told us that we could find toilets either in Burger King just down the road, or in Hyde Park a few minutes further on.  Those of us who had already glugged down a fair amount of water went for the first option.  This was possibly not the best move, as the number of flights of stairs we had to climb in order to reach the toilets meant that the comfort of relieving our bladders was offset by the discomfort of increased aching in our thighs.  We reckoned that the extra steps probably added up to another half a mile and briefly considered texting all the people who had sponsored us by the mile in a bid to increase our fundraising totals.

We continued through a section of Hyde Park, past the Victoria and Albert Museum, Harrods, and then back into Hyde Park where we treated ourselves to a sit down on a vacant bench as we refuelled.  After being overtaken by the team of Nordic walkers in their Eye to Eye t-shirts as we sat in the dappled sunshine munching our sarnies and admiring the Spring bulbs, we thought we’d better get a jiffy on and so off we set once more.  We paused briefly at Buckingham Palace to see if the Queen was at home and then trudged on towards Trafalgar Square.  Once there, we were met by the chaotic scene of a St Patrick’s Day celebration in full swing.  We skirted around the hoards of people, dodged various green hats, and breathed a sigh of relief as we made it to the relative sanctuary of the streets beyond.

At this point we aquired a sixth member of our little walking group, in the form of an optometrist from Maidstone, who told me that she wanted to take part in Eye to Eye after having referred patients up to Moorfields for treatment.  This was the first time she had visited the hospital and so she was interested to have a look around.  We traipsed on through the streets, and all became very excited when we caught a glimpse of our final desination – the London Eye!  The excitement turned to wry dismay as we obediently followed the orange arrows, which directed us in a huge de-tour away from the London Eye and, crucially, away from the tea and cake which awaited us at the finishing line!  We ploughed on determinedly, spurred on by texts sent from a couple of people who had made it to the finish and informed us that red velvet cake was available.  We trudged past Big Ben and onwards to Lambeth Bridge, where there was an extended discussion about what exactly the song, ‘doing the Lambeth walk’ was all about and whether or not we should be walking in this manner across the bridge.  (Clearly, we were getting tired by this point.)  A few more steps and we made it to the Lambeth Pier, onto the Eye to Eye boat, and claimed our reward of tea and cake along with medals and certificates.  Yay – we’d done it!  🙂

Now, I don’t want to sound cheesy but the real reward was not the tea and cake, but the satisfaction of raising such a fantastic amount of money for a cause which is very close to my heart as a result of my ongoing RD journey.  My sister and I couldn’t have done this without the generosity of all the people who have sponsored us, and we’re incredibly grateful to everyone who’s been kind enough to do so.  The fact that taking part in Eye to Eye was such a huge amount of fun was just the cherry on top of the cake (the metaphorical cake, that is).  I hadn’t expected to enjoy the whole day as thoroughly as I did, and it was great to put a few faces to names as well as meet new people and hear their stories.

If you didn’t sponsor us but would like to donate, it’s not too late!  Please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/emseyes.  🙂

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Marching for Moorfields: limbering up

Just incase my sister and I were in any danger of forgetting the fact that we’d signed up for the fourteen mile Eye to Eye sponsored walk on 13 March, Moorfields Eye Charity have been sending us weekly emails.  “Seven weeks to go!”, announced the first one, triumphantly with air of excited anticipation.  Shortly after receiving it, a somewhat more panicked missive pinged into my inbox: “Aaaaaaaaaaaagghhh!”, wrote my sister, “Seven weeks to go ’til Eye to Eye!”.  “Oh don’t worry”, I assured her, “there’s still plenty of time!  Have you done any practise yet?”  It transpired that she hadn’t really done much practise at all because – irony of ironies – she couldn’t walk too far with the dog.  Now, in the dog’s defence, he is now eleven years old and has a touch of arthritis which causes him to limp if he walks too far.  My suggestion that she take him for a quick meander then return him home and go out again herself for a longer walk was greeted with a gasp of horror, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that – I’d feel too guilty!”

Not to be defeated, during my next visit to Surrey I suggested a spot of Eye to Eye practise.  It was quite a family outing as my mum came too, along with both dogs.  Sure enough, our canine companions didn’t seem to grasp the concept of ‘marching for Moorfields’ and seemed to be under the impression that it was ‘having a good sniff at every post for Moorfields’ instead.  Unfortunately, I suspected that we wouldn’t be able to boost our fundraising total very much by adopting their approach, and we were also likely to get some very funny looks along the way.  We continued as best we could, but I couldn’t help thinking that the short distance we managed (I reckon it was only about a mile and a half) wasn’t going to help us an awful lot in preparing for our fourteen-mile trek.  On the other hand, it was actually pretty good-going that my sister was still ploughing ahead with Eye to Eye after an unfortunate incident several weeks back when one of her toenails fell off.  “Whaddaya mean, your toenail fell off?!”, I demanded in dismay mixed with incredulity when she told me.  Apparently it had been feeling a bit odd for a while before giving up the ghost and falling off completely, at which point it became very sore.  Matters weren’t improved by our aunt informing us darkly that toenails take AGES to grow back.  Hmmm.  So that would be longer than the few weeks we had to go until Eye to Eye then!  😮

Shortly after the toenail incident, our spirits were raised by Moorfields Eye Charity’s “Six weeks to go!” email, which announced that they had selected us as their ‘fundraising heroes of the week’.  My sister had already been aware of this, as they’d ‘phoned her to ask if they could write about us in the email, but it came as a complete surprise to me!  Needless to say, it gave us both a boost, as did the fact that we made it past our target of raising £50 for every mile we’ll be walking.  We’re hugely grateful to everyone who has donated so far, and every donation we receive gives us a little boost to continue and try to raise as much as we can for Moorfields Eye Charity.  The money we raise will be used to support sight saving research into retinal conditions.  For further information on the Eye to Eye walk, please go to: http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/content/eye-eye-2016, and if you’d like to sponsor us in our walking challenge please do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/emseyes.  Alternatively, you can donate by texting: ‘LOOK48 £5’ (or the amount you wish to donate).

eye to eye practise in Pirbright

 

Marching for Moorfields: joining in

Following my sister’s determined decision to take up the challenge of the 14-mile Eye to Eye walk from Moorfields Eye Hospital to the London Eye in aid of Moorfields Eye Charity (https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/marching-for-moorfields-signing-up/) because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it due to a much-dreaded surgery number 6 looming on the horizon like a giant monster with particularly huge gnashing teeth, I settled back in reluctant resignation and busied myself in nagging various friends and family members to sponsor her.  It must be noted here that a fair few people duly did, and we’ve been hugely grateful for the generosity shown so far.  At my appointment at Moorfields on 7 December, I was given the unexpected but very welcome news that my new consultant (you know, the one who IS going to fix my eyes) felt that it wasn’t necessary to rush into further surgery quite yet, and he was happy to give me a break from it and continue to monitor my eyes for the next few months (see: https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/wheres-a-magic-carpet-when-you-need-one/).  Once I’d recovered from the euphoria of this news, I suddenly realised… Eye to Eye… yes… I’d probably be able to sign up and take part after all!  Wehey!

As I still get extremely tired more easily than I ever did before this ongoing eye nightmare began, plus I also had the nagging worry as to what would happen if I signed up for the walk and then needed surgery in the meantime, I emailed the helpful lady at Moorfields Eye Charity for advice.  She got back to me to say that if I find myself getting tired during the walk, it can be arranged for me to be picked up and taken to the end to meet my sister, and if for any reason I find myself unable to take part after all, I should just let my sponsors know in case they would like their donations refunded.  (I’m hoping that none of the people I know are capable of being quite so Scrooge-like.)  The main reason I’m so keen to take part in Eye to Eye is that I’m hugely grateful to Moorfields for the treatment and care they’ve given me so far, even though unfortuately much of it hasn’t been as successful as I’d have liked due to the fact that I’m in a tiny minority of very complicated cases.  I’m also very aware that we have much to be thankful for in the UK, with treatment being covered by the NHS.  I read some of the stories of my American eye buddies in horror, thinking that it’s bad enough going through these eye issues anyway, without having the added stress of costs and health insurance to contend with.  Eye surgery is not cheap.  A family friend who had a vitrectomy operation for a macular hole in 2014 was quoted £7,000 to have the surgery done privately.  I’ve now had five vitrectomies, and I’m guessing the figure my friend was quoted wouldn’t have included all the added extras I’ve had to undergo during these operations, such as laser, cryotherapy, retinectomies, and the tricky business of getting the darn retina to lie flat once more.  I therefore have many reasons to be hugely grateful to Moorfields and the NHS.  I’m now keeping my fingers crossed that, having now signed up for it, all will be well and I’ll be able to crack on and do the walk on 13 March.  I’m also hoping that lots more people will sponsor us.  It doesn’t matter how much – everything helps!

For further information about Eye to Eye, please see: http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/content/eye-eye-2016, and if you’d like to sponsor us in our walking challenge, please do so via my sister’s JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/emseyes.  The money raised will go to Moorfields Eye Charity, to support sight saving research into retinal conditions.  🙂

eye to eye eye logo

Marching for Moorfields: signing up

In March 2015, Moorfields Eye Charity’s inaugural Eye to Eye sponsored walk took place from Moorfields to the London Eye, to raise vital funds for the hospital.  Annoyingly, I was unable to take part as it clashed with an appointment and the logistics of getting backwards and forwards were too complicated.  I told myself it didn’t matter as I could always get involved the following year.  However, with potential surgery number six looming menacingly on the horizon, I decided it probably wouldn’t be very sensible to sign up for the walk in March 2016 until I know what the plan is.  For the past few months I’ve been bemoaning this fact to my long-suffering family.  When one of my eye buddies on the Facebook support group site signed up for it and shared her charity page, I leapt on it with enthusiasm, sponsored her, and shared it in turn on my own page to encourage other people to sponsor her for such an excellent cause, wailing once more that I’d wanted to do it but was unable to commit at the current time.

The next day, I received an email from my sister: “Hey sis, I’ve signed up for Eye to Eye (aaaaaagghhhh – it’s like walking to Guildford and back twice!!) and then you don’t have to worry if you can’t do it but could do it with me if you can – whaddaya reckon?”  What did I reckon… she’d only gone and signed up for the FOURTEEN MILE version of the walk… WHAT DID I RECKON?!  My sister, who tends to bitterly complain ten minutes into a gentle hour’s geocaching ramble (okay, so maybe that’s more to do with the stopping and hunting for tupperware than the actual walking, but we’ll ignore that for now) had signed herself up for a FOURTEEN MILE trek across London?!  I immediately rang her to double check that she’d really gone for the fourteen mile one, rather than the far more sedate and manageable four-mile option.  “Well”, she said, in a slightly strangled voice, “Four miles isn’t much of a challenge, is it?”  I pointed out that it really depended on who was taking up the challenge – if it was Paula Radcliffe, then four or fourteen miles wouldn’t really be a challenge.  But for someone who can’t manage half an hour’s geocaching without complaining, it probably was.  She then delivered the brutal blow: “But that’s because geocaching’s boring!”  Naturally I was utterly lost for words at hearing this.  Once I recovererd myself, I attempted to take a different tack, pleading, “But I don’t think I’ll manage fourteen miles, cos I’m still getting really knackered… won’t you change to the four-mile route so that I can definitely do that with you if it doesn’t clash with my surgery?”  For a few minutes she seemed to be wavering, and I attempted to push home my advantage by warning, “Have you thought about how long it’s going to take you to walk that far?”  This progressed onto googling how long it would take to walk fourteen miles, followed by a simple calculation that if normal walking speed is approximately 3 miles an hour then it would take almost five hours.  That wasn’t taking into account any stops, or the time it would take to get there and then back to the train station and home again afterwards.  “You’re going to be knackered!”, I warned.  “And it’s actually going to be further than walking to Guildford and back!”   She started to dig her heels in then, with a determined stubbornness well recognised by one who happens to possess such a trait in equal measure.

I knew there was no point in making any further attempts to get her to downgrade to the four-mile option.  And now she’s announced her personal challenge to the world, on her JustGiving page.  Her plan now is to get into practice by walking people’s dogs.  It’s no use walking her own dog, because he’s getting on a bit now – he has a touch of arthritis and stops to sniff around at various objects along the way every five minutes or so.  I’m looking into buying her a pair of boots for Christmas, especially for the Eye to Eye walk.  The ones that children have, with wheels set into the soles – surely there must be an adult version somewhere?  I figure that way she can surreptitiously hang onto the person in front if she gets too tired, and just get pulled along.  At least she’s got a while to practice anyway, as the walk will be taking place on 13 March 2016.  Maybe we’ll even fit a few geocaching expeditions in, under the pretext of ‘training’!  😉

For further information about the Eye to Eye walk, please see: http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/content/eye-eye-2016, and if you’d like to sponsor my sister in her walking challenge, please do so via her JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/emseyes.  The money raised will go to Moorfields Eye Charity, to support sight saving research into retinal conditions.  We’re hugely grateful to everyone who’s sponsored her so far – in fact, we get incredibly excited whenever we notice that someone else has sponsored her, so as well as giving us a boost of excitement for the day you will also be doing a very good deed in donating towards an incredibly worthy cause.  🙂

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