Atish: walking Eye to Eye for Keratoconus research

Atish Shah will be participating in Moorfields Eye Charity's flagship Eye to Eye walk this year to help raise funds for research into Keratoconus. Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped clear window of the eye (cornea) progressively thins causing a cone-like bulge to develop. It eventually impairs the ability of the eye to focus properly, causing poor vision. Here Atish explains his journey living with this condition and why he is fundraising for us:

"A Van Gogh painting, colourful splodges, without any detail, this is what  Keratoconus feels like.  A couple of my elder cousins had also been diagnosed with this same condition a few years prior to my diagnosis in 2008. Moorfields Eye Hospital provided me with Hard contact lenses which would improve my vision significantly. Over the next 4 years of my life this condition worsened and resulted me undergoing two operations in 2012. The first operation was called Corneal Collagen Cross-linking which increased the stability of the front of the eye and thereby halting the progression caused by keratoconus. The second was undergoing a Corneal Graft at Moorfields Eye Hospital where my cornea was replaced by donated corneal tissue. I consider myself as one of  the fortunate ones as only approximately 2,500 people receive a cornea graft each year due to the lack of corneal donors.

I think that organ donation is such a precious gift. When people say that they don’t want to donate their eyes, I understand it to a certain extent as your eyes are fragile and they are viewed as a more “squeamish” part of the body to be operated on. It makes me feel slightly sad as many people desperately need a cornea graft for a better quality of life as it can restrict lifestyle choices such as learning to drive and playing sport. So, if less people are donating, people are on waiting lists for a long amount of time while their vision is deteriorating. I never fully appreciated this, but after myself needing a transplant so badly you gain a better perspective.

I have been visiting Moorfields Eye Hospital over the last 11 years and can honestly say that my life would have been totally different if it was not down to the dedication and research that this hospital does. It has honestly changed my life for the better.

My family and I have decided to walk the Eye to Eye challenge on the 10th March 2019 to raise money for this amazing charity. All of the money raised by us will be donated to Moorfields Eye Hospital – Keratoconus department. This will help other patients and also help to continue the research into this condition."

It only takes two minutes to join the NHS Organ Donor Register at http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk