A determined Knightswood man who faces losing his sight before he turns 40 is focusing on fundraising with help from Specsavers in Clydebank.
James Semple, 36, was diagnosed with choroideremia in 2013 – a condition which affects the blood vessels surrounding the retina and can lead to complete blindness.
Noticeable problems from a young age
James, known as Jay, started noticing problems with his sight when he was just six years old, and doctors originally diagnosed retinitis pigmentosa when he was 15.
Since his formal choroideremia diagnosis in 2013, Jay has been unable to live without assistance – but his condition, which affects just one in 50,000 people, has not stopped him from pursuing his love for running.
Jay is in regular contact with optometrists at Specsavers in Clydebank and gets special glasses from the store to protect his eyes when he’s training.
And support from the store has allowed him to take part in 5ks, 10ks and half marathons – all in the name of a good cause – in the UK over the last three years.
To thank the store for its support, Jay wants to run with the Specsavers logo on his shirt this year.
Jay said: ‘The optometrists at Specsavers are really good at explaining what’s happening with my eyes and telling me all about the condition. The store has fantastic equipment and staff take time to speak to me about what’s ahead and what I can do to retain my sight for as long as possible.
‘Their support means a lot to me and I would like to say thanks by having the logo on my shirt for my races this year.’
Jay trains near to his home in Knightswood.
He started running in 2012 when he donned a kilt for the Men’s Health 10k in aid of Prostate Cancer UK and since then has taken part in almost 60 events.
Total raised so far
To date, Jay has raised almost £1000 for a number of different charities.
His son Tyler James, who turns three in April, has also caught the running bug and joined his dad on the Paisley 10k in April 2015, last year’s Perth Kilt Run and completed three Santa Dashes in the run-up to Christmas.
Jay is also a martial arts expert and scooped 49 trophies in Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing between 1995 and 2010.
Determined Jay has recently undergone surgery to remove cataracts and repair his split retinas and he is currently investigating alternative treatments including gene and stem cell therapy and acupuncture.
He’s currently in training for the World Half Marathon in Cardiff which takes place this Saturday, 26 March.
Jay adds: ‘Running makes me feel like I can still do things. It’s important for me that I raise money for charity as I want to help other people that are living with a lot of different conditions.’
A word from our store director
Specsavers Clydebank store director Charles Kinsey said: ‘Jay is an inspiration. His condition is very rare and incredibly debilitating but he shows such determination and care for others by taking on his races for charity.
‘We’re delighted to see him doing so well and raising money for charity and we’re very proud that he’s chosen to display the Specsavers logo on his shirt.’