City walks to fund blindness cures

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Clarification: This story and headline have been edited to correct grammar and language in a previous version.

Foundation is close to reaching its goal in hope to cure retinal disease.

By Sasha D. Robinson

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

The 9th annual San Antonio-Austin VisionWalk was April 1 at McAllister Park.

Since the inception in the spring of 2006, the VisionWalk has raised over more than $43 million to fund sight-saving research.

Music Business sophomore Tony Guerrero, who has Retinitis pigmentosa or RP participates in the event.

“I have trouble going from a light and going to a room that is dark. It takes a while for my eyes to adjust and vice versa with dark to light,” Guerrero said.

According to www.blindness.org, people diagnosed with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision as photoreceptor cells in the retina degenerate.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness was established in 1971 to find treatments for inherited retinal diseases.

The foundation’s goal is to drive research that would lead to preventions, treatments and vision restoration for the spectrum of degenerative retinal diseases, specifically macular degeneration.

This includes age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, Usher Syndrome, Stargardt Disease and Leber Congenital Amurosis or (LCA).

For the last decade, there have been clinical trials going through FDA approval such as the biotic eye for people who are blind but who can see pixilated images.

According to bbc.com, Fergus Walsh’s article “Bionic eye implant world first,” the bionic eye implant receives its visual information from a miniature camera mounted on glasses worn by the patient.

The images are converted into electrical pulses and transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes attached to the retina.

The foundation has raised over more than $700 million in 46 years to reverse blindness and restore vision.

The San Antonio Spurs Coyote mascot made an appearance at the event.

Shane Cullen, the events manager for the San Antonio-Austin VisionWalk, said the San Antonio-Austin area raised almost $83,000 for 2017 and has until June to reach the goal of $1.1 million.

“In the retinal profession, the goal is to find a cure, so they can go out of a job so we don’t have to be here to raise the funds,” Cullen said.

The foundation fighting blindness funds research in Dallas, Iowa, Boston and other parts of the U.S. to help orphan retinal degenerative diseases that affect about 250 thousand people.

There are over more than 50 vision walks to help raise the funds to find cures.

The VisionWalk is the keynote fundraising event to help raise money for research to find cures for retinal diseases.

Jessica Winston and Jackie Fields of Team Gilson walked for a co-worker who’s children have Stargardt’s disease.

Stargardt’s disease is a juvenile macular degeneration that is caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the centra portion of the retina called the macula.

“We are out here for a great cause,” Winston said.

“Anything to support the research for degenerative diseases, you know, we just want to be out here to support the team.”

Sponsors for the event are Regeneron, The Allergan Foundation, H.E. Butt Grocery CO., Valero, Ancira, O’Connor, Hewit Foundation Visionworks and many more.

For more information on the Foundation for Fighting blindness, visit www.blindness.org. and for the San Antonio-Austin Visionwalk visit www.Fightblindness.org/site/tr/visionwalk/visionwalk.

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