A LEADING sight loss charity is appealing for volunteers to help support people with macular disease which affects over 1.5 million people across Britain.

The Northallerton based support group is hoping volunteers will come forward to help them assist people suffering from the disease.

Joanne Reader, Macular Society regional manager, said: "The Northallerton Macular Society Support Group provides a real lifeline for people living locally with sight loss. The peer support offered by the group is absolutely vital , it’s incredibly reassuring for people to know that there are others who truly understand their situation.

"With around 300 people in the UK being diagnosed with macular disease every day, the existence of our support groups has never been more important.

" No prior experience of macular disease is needed to help us, just excellent organisational skills, lots of enthusiasm and a passion for helping to make a difference to peoples’ lives.

"Support will be available for all new volunteers as they learn their new roles, from myself and our services and volunteering team. If you have some free time and would be willing to help out, we would love to hear from you."

Joanne said the group meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 1.30pm to 3pm at The Cottage Meeting Room in Northallerton methodist church in the the town's high street.

The next meeting which will be open to new supporters and anyone who thinks they can help is being held on Wednesday April 1, contact Joanne Reader on 07376 398916.

Nationally the Macular Society is campaigning for research and support as the only way to beat the brutal and debilitating disease.

A spokesperson added: "It’s the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Macular disease is cruel and isolating. It steals people's sight, their independence, and their ability to do the things they love.

"It can affect people of any age, even children, but not enough is known about why, and there is still no cure. There is only one way to Beat Macular Disease for good. We must fund much more research now, until we find a cure, or find treatments that stop it in its tracks.

"Together we can raise money for the research that will find the cure. Together we can make sure the next generation won’t have their sight, confidence, and love of life stolen from them by macular disease.

"Macular degeneration can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.

For general information on macular disease, call the Macular Society on 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org