Tony Ward- Head of Fundraising, Fighting Blindness

  • Presentation Title:

    Outline of content for Research and Innovation conference.

    Presentation Synopsis:

    • Experience of losing one’s sight and challenges for people in Ireland
    • Why research is so important and the progress that has been made in 30 years
    • The important role of patient organisation involvement, especially in medical research
    • The commitment of organisations like Fighting Blindness
    • The cost of blindness and how things can be different in the future.

    Speaker Bio:

    Tony had a fairly mainstream upbringing, attended school and college and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1989.

    In 1994, having had some eyesight problems he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This came as quite a shock with no prospect of treatment. At the time Tony came across Irish charity Fighting Blindness which is leading the way both nationally and internationally investing in medical research while also supporting the estimated 224,000 people in Ireland affected by severe vision loss and Tony has been involved in the charity in various capacities for over 20 years.

    Having been involved in sport before his sight loss, in 1999 Tony took up athletics and began to participate again. Since then he has devoted a lot of time to training and competition. The rewards have been enormous, having represented Ireland at European and World level in middle distances and has completed 6 marathons, most recently in New York (November 2015). Highlights have included winning a bronze medal at the world cross championships in 2001 and gaining an A qualification standard in the marathon for the Athens Paralympics in 2004.

    As Fighting Blindness is over 90% funded through fundraising Tony often uses his athletic challenges to raise much needed funds and raised an amazing €30,000 as part of his New York marathon fundraising campaign.

    Since 1983 Fighting Blindness has invested over €15 million in 70 research projects based in Ireland. The progress has been fantastic with much international collaboration and the prospect, recently announced by Spark Therapeutics in Philadelphia that the first gene therapy for any medical condition could be in the area of restoring sight as one of its projects advances through clinical trials.



    Tony Ward_NY marathon_finish line





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