University to help blind footballers take to the pitch

Posted by er134 at Oct 23, 2013 11:16 AM |
Event for international awareness day for Nystagmus introduces world of blind and partially sighted football on Friday 1 November 2013

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 23 October 2013

The University of Leicester’s Ophthalmology Group has arranged a special blind and partially sighted football taster event in partnership Leicester and Rutland County Football Association.

The event will be a chance for both children and adults, to find out more about blind and partially sighted football with hopes to raise awareness of the game for blind players and those with the eye condition Nystagmus.

The event, one of many worldwide initiatives arranged to promote Wobbly Wednesday, will introduce players to ‘blind futsal’—an adaptation of football, played with modified FIFA rules, for athletes with visual impairments, including blindness and Nystagmus.

Wobbly Wednesday, taking place on 6 November, is the first international Nystagmus Awareness Day organised by the Nystagmus Network. The network provides information, help and support to sufferers of the condition.

Nystagmus, a condition causing the eyes to move involuntarily, affects approximately two to three in 1,000 people and is the main cause of serious visual impairment among school age children. As an adult it can affect many aspects of the sufferer’s life, from driving to eye contact to job interviews.

There will also be information available from the Ophthalmology Group, as well as games, raffle and prizes to be won.

Mateen Rahman and other players from the blind England team will be in attendance.

West Bromwich footballer and Nystagmus Network patron Steven Reid said: “The Leicester research group have been a fantastic help to our family ever since my son Harry was diagnosed with Nystagmus. And as a footballer, I’m pleased to lend my support to this match.”

Professor Irene Gottlob, Head of Ophthalmology Group at University of Leicester said: “Most people have never heard about Nystagmus. This is why it so important to raise awareness. Parents of children with Nystagmus are often desperate when they come to our clinic as health professionals did not know what was wrong.

“It is amazing how many adults who have Nystagmus all their life come to clinic and have no idea what Nystagmus means. They do not know that it is often part of one of many genetic diseases affecting the retina, and their family never benefited from genetic counselling.

“More research is desperately needed. We need to look into the cause of Nystagmus. Understanding the genetic changes will help to understand mechanisms and to develop better treatments. Resources for research are greatly needed and more awareness could help to raise research funds.”

John Sanders, Nystagmus Network information and development manager, said: “Leicester is the biggest research centre for Nystagmus in the UK so we’re really delighted that they’ve come up with this fun way of raising awareness of this eye condition.

“It also shows that just because you have Nystagmus, it doesn’t mean you can’t play sports.”

The taster session will start at 7.00pm on Friday 1 November 2013 at:

Holmes Park (Leicestershire and Rutland CFA)

Dog and Gun Lane




An information stand will be available in the main restaurant at Leicester Royal Infirmary from 10 - 2pm on Wobbly Wednesday, 6 November, for people to come along and talk to eye experts about the condition.


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Rebecca McLean at:

  • The Opthalmology Group is part of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and research interests include: neuroophthalmology and paediatric ophthalmology (eye movement disorders and visual development), genetics of oculomotor disorders, motor and sensory abnormalities in amblyopia, pathophysiology of eye movements, especially Nystagmus, and the physiology of normal eye movements.
  • Nystagmus Network was set up in 1984 to support people with Nystagmus and encourage research into the condition. Nystagmus Network is a registered charity (number 803440). Sir James Galway and Steven Reid are patrons of NN.

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