A Newtown schoolboy who battled a rare eye cancer helped to launch a Vision Express sunglasses giveaway at Oswestry on Saturday, to mark World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week (8 - 15 May 2016).
Christopher Jones, aged eight, from New Mills, near Newtown, joined the Vision Express team to rally support as the optical retailer’s 380-plus stores nationwide dedicate this week to supporting charity partner The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT).
Christopher was just six months old when he was diagnosed with the rare eye cancer retinoblastoma. He had his left eye removed in an emergency operation to save his life and now wears an artificial eye.
Last year, Christopher won an award for his bravery during and after his cancer battle.
A local ambassador for CHECT, Christopher visited the store on Saturday to help launch the nationwide sunglasses raffle, with entry via donation to the charity. The raffle will offer two pairs of ‘Exclusive Brands’ sunglasses – one adult and one child – from the recently-launched Vision Express collection. The new range provides a high quality, value for money alternative to designer glasses, with frame prices starting at £39.
His mum Denise said: “It was a fantastic day, with lots of people coming to talk to Christopher but he gets on with it, just like he always does.
“He’s only eight and doesn’t always understand what people are saying to him but he always takes things in his stride and he really enjoyed his time at the Vision Express store.”
The competition is running in support of CHECT’s #InTheDark campaign to raise awareness of the signs of the disease. It follows research commissioned by CHECT for World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week, which reveals that less than one in three parents have ever had their child’s eyes checked, with half of parents unaware children could get eye cancer (1).
Patrick Tonks, chief executive of CHECT, said: “For too long retinoblastoma has been shrouded in darkness – children are left in the dark because some or all of their vision has been stolen and parents and healthcare professionals are in the dark because of a lack of awareness.
“Parents usually know when their little one is unwell but with retinoblastoma children often seem perfectly happy and healthy so it’s much harder to spot. We want all parents to be ‘eye aware’ and to take their child to see a health professional if they have any concerns at all.”
Patrick adds: “Retinoblastoma is rare and symptoms like a squint or white eye are often nothing to worry about but they should always be checked to rule out anything serious.”
Vision Express Oswestry’s store manager Sharon Rose added: “It was an honour to welcome Christopher to the store, to support our fundraising and share his personal experience of eye cancer. It’s a great morale boost for the team to do something meaningful for such a good cause, and is a great way for Vision Express to let people know about the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect against UV damage too.”
Vision Express has enjoyed an award-winning partnership with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) since 2010, using initiatives to raise awareness and drive donations for the charity, so they can help more families affected.
It was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if retinoblastoma is suspected. Employees and customers of Vision Express have raised around £300,000 since the partnership was forged.
Vision Express offers an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists (COO), with each Vision Express optometrist being a qualified eye health professional. To find your nearest store to book an eye test visit www.visionexpress.com/book-eye-test/
For more information on retinoblastoma please visit www.chect.org.uk
1. 1,030 parents took part in the online survey, conducted by MMR Research Worldwide in April 2016. All parents had at least one child aged between 0-6 years. Eye checks exclude regular childhood developmental checks and exams. Weighting factors applied so as to align demographic make of the samples across project waves.
About Vision Express
Vision Express is the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating across 43 countries, spanning over 5,800 stores and online.
With more than 390 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.
Vision Express is considered one of the leading and most trusted opticians in the UK and Ireland, with its European offering supported through sister eye care brands Grand Optical, Solaris and Generale D'Optique.
With around 4,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:
- Alzheimer’s Research UK
- Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
- International Glaucoma Association
- Macular Society
- Stroke Association
- Temple Street University Hospital.