Bill Schmidt, CEO
Throughout its 46-year history, the Foundation Fighting Blindness
has been the world leader in the field of retinal degenerative
disease research. This year, the Foundation surpassed the $700
million milestone in money raised to advance this vision-saving
research. That fundraising success, coupled with our work with
pharmaceutical partners and the best retinal researchers in the
world, provides over 10 million Americans and millions more
people worldwide who have lost vision due to retinal disease with
the true promise of restored sight.
The Foundation is led by a remarkable group of volunteers and is
advised by the best minds in retinal disease research in the world
— please see pages 9–12 for our Board leadership and members
of our Scientific Advisory Board. In addition, we are also a local
organization with 43 volunteer-led chapters across the United
States. These dedicated volunteers raise funds, increase public
awareness, and provide support to families affected by retinal
diseases in their communities.
Wise stewardship of donation dollars and strategic investments
in research are ingrained values for the Foundation. We are
extremely proud of how far our work has moved the field of retinal
degenerative disease research. This year, thanks to accelerated
progress in clinical and translational research in labs across the
United States and throughout the world, more FFB funds are being
invested in later stages of the research continuum; that is, in the
testing of specific treatments and potential cures in human subjects.
Over our history FFB has, on average, invested above 70 percent
of our annual revenue budgets in research and public health
education programs. We will continue to work to maintain our high
average annual spending in these key program areas. For more
information about FFB’s financial management, see the Treasurer’s
Report on page 6.
Thanks to these sustained investments, Foundation-funded
researchers are achieving remarkable success with a wide range of
promising therapies for saving and restoring sight. Below are just a
few examples of the research providing hope to millions affected by
inherited vision loss.
Gene Therapy Restores Vision
The Foundation is funding translational research and clinical trials
of gene therapy that have restored vision in patients who were
virtually blind from a childhood form of retinitis pigmentosa.
Thanks to the treatment, they can now enjoy some of life’s simple
joys, like reading and playing baseball.
Developing Drugs to Preserve Vision
The Foundation is funding research on potential drug therapies
that work by slowing or preventing the loss of retinal cells, thereby
saving vision. Many of these treatments are cross-cutting, meaning
they’re designed to work for a wide range of retinal conditions,
regardless of the genetic defect.
Harnessing the Power of Stem Cells
Foundation-funded researchers are using stem cells derived from a
variety of sources, including a person’s own skin, to create healthy
retinal cells that can potentially restore vision. Stem-cell treatments
hold great promise for people with advanced vision loss.
Funding the Best in Retinal Research
The Foundation has funded studies at hundreds of prominent
institutions throughout the world, including, but not limited to:
• Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
• Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School
• Insitut de la Vision, Paris, France
• Moorfields Eye Hospital, University College London
• Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania
These impressive advancements would not be possible without the
generous support of our donors. We can all feel very good about
the progress being made, but let us remember there is also a lot
more work to do. I hope we can count on your continued support.
If you have questions, I invite you to contact me at