Gemma is an international dressage rider, business owner, and TV personality. Her father, legendary footballer, Michael Owen is also a proud supporter of Fight for Sight.
Supporting the sight loss community is a mission close to the heart of Gemma and her family. Gemma’s brother, James, lives with a rare, degenerative eye condition called Stargardt macular dystrophy (or Stargardt disease), which causes progressive central sight loss and affects a person’s fine, detailed vision.
Announcing her ambassadorship via Instagram, Gemma said:
“When my brother James was around 8yo, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Stargardt Disease.
This condition progressively deteriorates vision from the macular, and currently, there is no cure or treatment. Having closely witnessed how sight loss has affected him personally, I am honoured to announce that I am now an ambassador for @fightforsightuk.”
Gemma will work with the organisation to increase awareness among young people of the impact of sight loss and the importance of regular eye checks.
Speaking about her appointment as Young Ambassador, Gemma said:
“My focus is to raise awareness among young people of the impact of sight loss and the importance of regular eye health checks that can identify conditions such as Stargardt disease early. I’ll be using my platform, including social media, and working with Fight for Sight, to share the message with as many young people as possible. I’m inspired by the research Fight for Sight is funding, discovering more about conditions that cause sight loss and finding new treatments for people living with them. It was brilliant to hear about their recent merger with Vision Foundation, and I’m excited to be a part of this incredible journey.”
Gemma’s work has already helped to raise vital awareness with many people adding personal comments on her recent Instagram post, including:
“That’s really touched me, Gemma, as my husband was diagnosed with Stargardt disease in his 30s it’s soul-destroying seeing your loved one losing their sight, and there is no cure. Thanks for being their ambassador,”
“This is so close to my heart, I love that you are using your platform for this, from a mother of a daughter with progressive sight loss, I can’t tell you how thankful I am to anyone who tries to help and raise awareness, thank you.”
Funding research to find a cure for Stargardt
We are proud to announce new funding to find a cure for Stargardt – there are condition affecting 1 in 8,000 to 10,000 individuals worldwide.
Fight for Sight have awarded a grant to Professor Omar Mahroo from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. His work aims to develop gene therapy for people who have Stargardt. If the pre-clinical trial proves successful, it could help slow down or stop progressive sight loss, dramatically improving the quality of life for people like Gemma’s brother, James.
As Gemma added in her Instagram post:
“This UK charity is funding research into the prevention and treatment of blindness and eye disease and has a special place in all my family’s heart. I’m looking forward to working with them to help raise funds and awareness for research and developments in treatments for people with Stargardt Disease and other conditions causing blindness.”
An excellent ambassador for our newly merged organisation
Welcoming Gemma, Fight for Sight and Vision Foundation Chief Executive Keith Valentine said:
“Gemma is an inspirational young woman, and we’re delighted she has joined the team as a Young Ambassador.
“Gemma has demonstrated her tenacity and determination as a competitor in international dressage championships, so we were thrilled to find she brings the same energy and passion to raising awareness of sight loss. It is an exciting time for Gemma to join the charity as we have recently merged with Vision Foundation and have ambitious plans.
“The research Fight for Sight is currently funding will lead to better diagnosis, therapies and treatment for young people living with sight loss.”