Julian Jackson, creator of The Big Blind Walk, and founder of social enterprise VisionBridge has begun a 1000-mile journey from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise awareness of the impact of sight loss and the importance of eye research.

Julian will be joined for stretches of the route by a number of different supporters including Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, a long standing advocate of the prevention and treatment of eye disease.

Julian aims to complete the iconic route on 22 June, despite having lost his sight to a currently untreatable and incurable retinal inherited disease in 2010. His journey will cover some of the most testing terrains in the UK - challenging to any outdoor adventurer - and promises to be both a test of his physical and mental endurance.

The Countess of Wessex will join The Big Blind Walk on Friday 11th May. As Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Patron of Vision 2020, Her Royal Highness is firmly committed to eradicating avoidable blindness and supporting research into eye disease.

Julian is also delighted to have received a huge amount of interest in joining him on his journey from other supporters. He will be joined at different points by bands of supporters from all four corners of the nation, including patients, eye health professionals, academic researchers and clinicians, Soldiers in Scotland and Buddhist monks in Carlisle.

Julian commented: “I am thrilled to be embarking on this journey to raise money for our charity partner the National Eye Research Centre and to be joined by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex for a stretch of the route. For too long, research into eye disease has remained under the radar in the UK.

I will be tackling difficult terrains, environments and gradients on this walk, but the biggest challenge here will be drawing attention to the lack of funding being put into eye research. Sight loss can affect anyone and the worst part is that in some cases it could be completely avoidable.”