Glen’s story: abseiling the UK’s largest sculpture for nystagmus
7 January 2020
Glen was born with two eye conditions, aniridia and nystagmus. To support research into nystagmus, he abseiled down the UK’s largest sculpture to raise funds for Moorfields Eye Charity.
Glen Turner is the author of ‘Well Eye Never’, a blog about his personal experience of living in London with sight loss.
To raise money to support pioneering research into nystagmus at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, he decided to abseil down the UK’s largest sculpture – the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in the Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
What is nystagmus?
Nystagmus is a condition where your eyes move constantly in a way that you can’t control.
This can be in a side to side, an up and down, or a circular motion, or a combination. These movements affect how clearly you can see and so most people with nystagmus have reduced vision.
Nystagmus occurs when some parts of the brain that you need to see are underdeveloped or damaged. Sometimes this happens because of another underlying eye condition, such as congenital cataracts or aniridia.
There are two main types of nystagmus:
- Congenital (or ‘infantile’) nystagmus – this is when nystagmus is diagnosed in very young children.
- Acquired nystagmus – this is when nystagmus develops later in life, usually due to an incident that damages part of the brain.
There is currently no cure for nystagmus but researchers are exploring new ways of treating the condition.
Its symptoms can be managed in a number of ways, such as wearing glasses and contact lenses to improve reduced vision.
Taking the plunge
To complete the challenge, Glen needed to make his way down the massive 80 metre sculpture.
Dangle off the UK’s tallest sculpture…! The 20 mile views across London will be incredible though, so it’ll be worth fighting any nerves for.
With the help of climbing experts and some cheerleaders from Moorfields Eye Charity, Glen completed his abseil alongside ten others - all of whom were raising money for nystagmus research together.
Making a difference
Through his fundraising efforts Glen managed to raised nearly £900 - including a surprise £250 donation from BBC presenter Richard Osman!
The abseil was an incredible, stunning, exhilarating experience. I’m very proud and pleased to have done it, and to have raised so much money for nystagmus research in the process.
To find out more about Glen and his abseiling adventure, you can watch this video from his blog about the day.