On May 19th, I attended the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ “New York Fashion Ball.” The Foundation Fighting Blindness aims to drive research for the treatment, prevention, and cures of various retinal diseases such as Usher syndrome, age-related macular degeneration, and retinitis pigmentosa. There are more than 10 million individuals in the United States who suffer vision loss of some sort from the aforementioned diseases.
Two couples founded the FFB: Gordon & Lulie Gund and Bernard and Beverly Berman. The organization was founded in 1971 under the name National Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation. Over the years, the organization has been in developmental phases; planning charity events to raise funding for the research they wanted to focus on. Since their inception, the FFB has raised over $600 million. Today, they are heavily involved in 30 studies, funding the development of gene therapy, pharmaceutical drugs and stem cell therapy treatments. They currently fund 71 institutions and 116 grants. They have 50 volunteer-lead groups in the United States that dedicate their hours to raising money, educating the public, and provide various types of support for their community. The bulk of the donations go towards funding clinical studies of therapies, treatments, and drugs that have made it past their initial stages of testing.
Now let’s learn a little about these retinal diseases. Retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome are biological diseases that are typically diagnosed at a young age. Retinitis pigmentosa causes severe vision loss that will lead to legal blindness (and complete blindness in many cases). Usher syndrome is also identified at an early age as the diseases leads to various degrees of deafness, which later develops into RP.
Age-related macular degeneration is typically characterized by a loss of central vision overtime. This disease is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 55.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating, don’t hesitate to reach out! There is a regional office located right here in New York City:
80 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
Phone: (212) 244-1470
You can also email the foundation for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their direct PO Box for donations is:
Foundation Fighting Blindness – PO Box for Donations
PO Box 17279
Baltimore, MD 21298-9581
Click here for more contact information, and explore their website to learn more about the cause and how you can help fight blindness in America.