THE Macular Society has thanked staff at a Vision Express store in Llanelli for supporting a campaign to boost research funding into the biggest cause of blindness in the UK.

The Society and Vision Express have recently teamed up for a UK-wide initiative to increase funding for research into macular disease. Throughout December 2018, Vision Express will donate £1 from every £10 eye test that it performs to the Macular Society.

Adele Francis, regional manager for the leading sight loss charity, visited the Llanelli store at Trostre Retail Park this week to say thank you to colleagues and pass on the charity’s best wishes for the festive season.

Macular disease is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.

Cathy Yelf, Macular Society chief executive, said: “Our new strategy sets out what needs to be done to avert an epidemic of blindness in the UK and increasing funding is absolutely critical. Just 0.2 per cent of UK public medical research money is spent on macular disease. That is nowhere near enough to make real advancements into treatment or a possible cure.

“As a charity, we can’t do it alone, we rely on the support of our partners and donors to make this happen, so the commitment from Vision Express staff in Llanelli is a valuable step towards meeting our target.”

Jay Ghadiali, director of professional services at Vision Express, added: “We’ve been a proud partner of the Macular Society since 2014, and we’re pleased to be joining forces in December to raise both funds and awareness, to enable the charity to get closer to meeting that £6 million funding figure.

“This is unprecedented – Vision Express has never introduced a donation-per-test scheme, which shows just how seriously we take this issue, and we have committed to giving to the Macular Society £1 from every single eye test we complete across our network of almost 600 stores nationwide in December.”

In Wales, the Macular Society has been able to establish and run new sight loss support groups and recruit volunteers across the country thanks to more than £340,000 of funding from the Big Lottery Fund, made possible thanks to National Lottery players.

For general information on macular disease, call the Macular Society’s Helpline on 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org

Photo: Adele Francis, Macular Society regional manager (left), Carys Jones from Vision Express’s Llanelli store (right).

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