After receiving treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital for uveal melanoma, Richard took on the South Coast Challenge, walking 57 km in under 24 hours, as a way to thank the staff by raising money for Moorfields Eye Charity.

What is uveal melanoma?

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Uveal melanoma develops from cells called melanocytes, which are found in the uvea (the middle layer of tissue in the wall of the eyeball). The uveal tract is made up of the choroid, ciliary body and iris. There is no known cause of uveal melanoma. For some people there may not be any symptoms and the tumour is found during a routine eye test. For others, it can cause visual disturbances such as flashing lights, blurred vision or a shadow in one eye.

Richard noticed a flashing light in the periphery of his right eye when he was on a staycation with his wife and two children during a half-term break. He initially thought it may have been due to extended screen time and driving at night more than usual.

Richard is joined on a walk by his one-year-old daughter Beatrix

Richard booked an appointment with his optician, who spotted a lesion. He was diagnosed with uveal melanoma and met with Professor Sagoo and his team at Moorfields Eye Hospital. As the melanoma was small it was agreed to start the treatment as soon as possible and Richard was booked in for ruthenium plaque brachytherapy.

Ruthenium plaque brachytherapy

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A ruthenium plaque is surgically placed on the surface of the eye to treat the tumour. The plaque is a curved metal disc, about the size of a ten pence coin, which contains radioactive material, called ruthenium, which is sealed within the disc and does not contaminate the rest of your body. The tumour receives a dose of radiation whilst the plaque is on the surface of your eye, therefore you have to stay in hospital for observation. A second operation is needed to remove the plaque.

Making a difference

Signing up to walk the South Coast Challenge seemed a good way to say thanks to the staff at Moorfields

Richard, Moorfields patient

Following his treatment, Richard challenged himself to do an endurance walk – something he’d never done before. Richard and his family love how easy it is to get out into the countryside where they live. Having the beautiful outdoor spaces nearby was also handy for his training as he prepared to take on the epic challenge.

On the 4th September 2021, Richard walked 57km in 13 hours across the South Downs National Park. This is the furthest Richard had ever walked. Despite describing the gruelling last 5km as brutal’, he thoroughly enjoyed the journey, which gave him fantastic coastal views of the Seven Sisters.

Thanks to this mammoth challenge, Richard raised an incredible £6,215 for Moorfields Eye Charity! Fundraising like this helps the charity to continue to support the pioneering work of Moorfields Eye Hospital and its research partner, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Thank you to Richard for his amazing fundraising and to everyone who donated! #TeamMoorfields