Surgeon's marathon effort to find eye disease cure

Leading eye surgeon Oliver Backhouse is spearheading fundraising efforts to find a cure for an inherited eye condition which affects thousands of people – even running in his own family.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) covers a group of incurable inherited diseases of the retina which lead to a gradual progressive blindness. There are no proven treatments that can currently slow or even stop symptoms from worsening.

Mr Backhouse, an eye specialist at St James's Hospital in Leeds and the private Yorkshire Eye Hospital in Apperley Bridge, near Bradford, has the hereditary disease in his own family. He plans to run the London Marathon in April to raise 50,000 for the charity RP Fighting Blindness which is funding research into the causes and treatment of the conditions.

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He said: "Over the past decade there have been several breakthroughs in the genetics of RP. This together with the very exciting research in artificial retinas (the light sensitive part of the eye) means I can honestly say that soon there is the very real prospect of helping those severely affected by giving them back the gift of sight.