Join the spec-tacular efforts to help Matilda

Spectacular efforts are flying in as children get designing to help find a cure for 5-year-old Matilda Henley’s rare and agonising eye condition.

Proud mother, Claire Henley is behind a new superhero sunglasses competition to raise awareness of eye protection and raise charity funds.

Working with research charity, Fight For Sight (FFS), Claire hopes to raise awareness of protecting children’s eyes from the sun - and also one day find a cure for her own daughter’s painful condition.

The competition calls for children to get creative and design their own pair of glasses.

And Claire and her family hope the entries will roll in, raising as much as possible for Fight For Sight.

Matilda, a pupil at Priors Field, was diagnosed with Corneal Dystrophy as a baby.

The incredibly rare genetic condition regularly causes clusters of cysts to grow on her eyeballs which dry out and blister, leaving the child unable to see and in extreme pain until the sores have healed.

As a result, she must have eye drops every half an hour, and sleep with a gel mask to minimise overnight damage.

Very little research is being done to cure the condition, but the Henley family hope that one day FFS will come up with a solution to make things more bearable for Matilda.

Speaking about the importance of the work, mum-of-two Claire said: “I like to fundraise for the charity in the hope that Matilda will one day benefit from their research.

“This sunglasses competition was my idea, just to raise awareness and the charity has been so good supporting it.”

She explained that was well as bringing in funds, she hopes the design exercise will have a big impact on children’s eyes.

“Matilda has worn sunglasses almost all of the time for the past four years and it is one of the first things people notice about her,” she said.

“But it makes us notice that you very rarely see other children wearing them in the sun.

“It is so important to protect children’s eyes in the sun.”

Matilda and her two-year-old brother Austin have made their own entries which will be judged by the charity alongside others this month.

But Claire explained that summer is an especially difficult time for her daughter as the heat dries out her eyes and leaves her unable to play outside with her friends.

This summer the happy youngster has already spent several days in hospital as a result of blistering, but Claire said she is still smiling and back at home getting stuck in designing her princess specs.

Templates are available from Brian Holt for £1 each and can be customised, stuck to card, cut out and coloured in any way children wish.

Completed entries should be posted to FFS head office by August 15.