A YOUNG girl diagnosed with the unusually named “Morning Glory Syndrome” has climbed Scafell Pike for charity – just days before undergoing a major operation to save her sight.
Isabelle Gibson climbed the 3,200ft peak earlier this month to raise money for Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Charity – an organisation close to her heart, after she began receiving treatment at the hospital.
Isabelle, who is just seven years old, was diagnosed with the rare eye condition two and a half years ago. Just days after completing the challenge with her family, Isabelle underwent surgery to save the vision in her left eye.
Her mum Claire said: “She did the challenge so well – she was an absolute superstar. She walked up better than any of us and didn’t moan or complain once, even though we were walking for 7.5 hours. The weather was perfect and we got some amazing photos at the top.
“My parents got her a star trophy and presented it to her at the top – she was very proud as it’s her first ever trophy.
“She originally hoped to raise about £200 but we’ve managed to achieve more than £1,500.”
Isabelle, who lives in Barrow-in-Furness, was diagnosed with Morning Glory Syndrome when she was four years old, after her parents had noticed a slight turn in her left eye. She then attended her local doctors to get her eyes tested.
Isabelle was then referred to her local hospital in Barrow, where doctors diagnosed her with Morning Glory Syndrome. She then referred on to specialists at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, which just this month celebrated its 10th Birthday at its Oxford Road home.
Mum Claire said: “We didn’t know what it was at first but we were told it was very rare. Although it happens in the womb, they have no idea what causes it.”
The congenital eye condition is a defect of the optic nerve that resembles a flower known as “morning glory”. It is characterised by an enlarged, funnel-shaped cavity of the optic disc – the point where the optic nerve fibres leave the retina.
Symptoms include very poor vision and visual accuracy and it’s thought to occur when the optic nerve fails to completely form when the baby is developing in the womb.
Left untreated, patients risk losing their eyesight, which is why it was vital Isabelle underwent surgery. However, each time she attends an appointment at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, she has to undergo a 200-mile round trip from her home in Barrow-in-Furness.
“Day to day it hasn’t been affecting her that badly, but her retina has slowly been detaching more,” explains Claire. “Thankfully she wasn’t too nervous about the operation but I think being so young she didn’t really understand.”
Isabelle underwent surgery at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital on Tuesday, 6th August. Claire said the operation was a success and surgeons had managed to attach some of Isabelle’s retina, which is what they had hoped to achieve.
Just days earlier, on Thursday, 1st August, Isabelle completed her Scafell Pike challenge with parents Claire and Andrew, grandparents John and Janice Wilkinson, her auntie Karen Harvey and cousin Ellie Harvey. Little brother Tom, who turned 4 on Sunday (11th August) stayed with relatives during the excursion.
But, while still in bandages and recovering from her operation, Isabelle has already been planning her next challenge and hopes to climb Snowdon.
Claire said: “The next challenge will be Snowdon next year. A lot of my friends are joining the team as well and we’re so pleased they’re willing to join us.
“Obviously there will be a period of recovery over the school holidays, but she is excited to climb the next one.”
The family’s JustGiving Page can be visited at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-gibson20. All the money raised will go directly to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Charity to help support treatment, research and care at the hospital – which is one of the largest ophthalmic teaching hospitals in the UK.
In the ten years the eye hospital has been situated in Oxford Road, Manchester, staff have cared for more than 2.3million patients and performed more than 48,000 surgeries.
Lily Preston, Community Fundraising Officer for Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Charity, said: “Isabelle did so well climbing Scafell Pike at such a young age, especially as it was only a week before she underwent her surgery.
“The family have been fantastic supporters of our charity and we can’t thank them enough for all the hard work they have put into their fundraising.
“I hope Isabelle is doing well after her operation and can’t wait to hear how she gets on at Snowdon next year.”