Rosanna Davison, nutritional therapist and Fighting Blindness ambassador.
Ask the Experts Your Burning Questions…
Ahead of World Sight Day, Fighting Blindness
Hosts “Meet the Experts” Conference
for People Affected by Sight Loss
– Charity Publishes its Top Tips for Better Eye Health –
It’s a valuable opportunity to meet and ask questions of some of the foremost experts at the cutting edge of research into sight loss. Fighting Blindness, Ireland’s leading charity pioneering world-leading research into treatments and cures for sight loss and blindness, has just announced details of Retina 2018 for people affected by sight loss.
The Public Engagement Day, supported by Novartis, will take place ahead of World Sight Day (October 11), on Saturday October 6 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8. It sees hundreds of people with a wide range of vision impairments come together from all over the country to connect with others who have been through similar experiences, and to hear of the latest research, clinical trial and treatment developments underway. People wishing to attend can register at www.retina.ie. To coincide with the event, Fighting Blindness has published its ‘Top Tips for Better Eye Health’ at www.retina.ie/eye-health-tips [full details below]
Retina 2018 comes against a backdrop of latest figures showing that there are approximately 224,000 people in Ireland who are living with vision impairment or blindness1.
The event will feature speakers on a range of hot-button topics, including clinical trials, genetic testing, and emerging therapies. There will also be a presentation on smart homes and how voice control technology is revolutionising life in the home for people with sight loss. Special guest at the event will be sculptor Victoria Claire who was diagnosed with the rare degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), at the age of 19. Victoria will share her experiences about coming to terms with losing her vision and how she feels that the blind community are excluded from mainstream exhibitions by not being allowed to touch works of art, whereas she feels that sculpture needs to be felt – something that she actively encourages. [More information at www.victoriaclairesculpture.com]
The afternoon sees a number of condition-specific breakout sessions, where people can attend seminars to get updates specific to their own situation – these include retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachment, as well as various other eye conditions. The day will be rounded off by a performance from the Visionaries Choir, Ireland’s only choir for people with a vision impairment. It is a four-part mixed choir made up of approximately 20 people, each with vision impairment, including its choir-master Frank Kelly.
Rugby legend and Fighting Blindness ambassador, Shane Byrne, says the Public Engagement Day will leave people both energised and inspired:
“Fighting Blindness has always been a cause close to my heart. My grandfather, who was a surgeon, tragically lost his sight and hearing in his early 40s. But he didn’t let it stop him. He went on to become the world’s first visually-impaired physiotherapist and had another very successful career. I see his passion and zeal reflected in the many people with sight loss that I have met through my work with Fighting Blindness. Like him, they have no intention of giving up and are intent on grabbing life by the horns and why wouldn’t they? The Public Engagement Day is a great opportunity to be energised by the experiences of others who have experienced a similar journey and to be inspired by researchers who really are going boldly into the future of vision research. It is definitely not to be missed.”
David Keegan, Consultant Vitreo-retinal Surgeon and Fighting Blindness board member, believes Retina 2018 offers an opportunity for patients to challenge clinicians and researchers to do better:
“The Retina Public Engagement Day has grown into a significant event in Irish ophthalmology. It provides a unique opportunity for Irish patients, researchers and clinicians to engage with world leaders in clinical and basic science retinal research. The ongoing success of the Retina meeting is down to the dedication and commitment of the Fighting Blindness staff, the support of world leaders in retinal disease and, most importantly, the engagement of patients who constantly challenge and encourage us to do better on their behalf.”
Kevin Whelan, CEO of Fighting Blindness, is encouraging people to sign up early to avoid disappointment:
“This event has become one of the highlights of the Fighting Blindness calendar and has grown hugely in terms of interest and attendance in recent years. If you are a person who has been diagnosed with a sight loss condition, or indeed a family member of someone in that situation, this is a golden opportunity to hear first-hand from scientists and clinicians as to the exciting developments and innovations coming down the tracks. You also won’t come across another event like it where there are so many people with a wide range of sight loss conditions under the one roof to learn from, and to make new connections and friendships. I’d encourage people to sign up without delay and to make sure to secure their place at www.retina.ie.”
For Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland, Retina 2018 is key in facilitating the involvement of patients in the development of research:
“Novartis is delighted to have supported the Fighting Blindness Public Engagement Day since it began in 2010. This is a unique event that recognises the importance of including the public’s perspective in research, education and information on advances in treating and managing sight loss. Our mission at Novartis is to discover new ways to improve and extend people’s lives and patients are at the core of everything we do. Therefore, we are delighted to partner with Fighting Blindness on this and other projects that aim to inform and empower people living with sight loss.”
For more information on the Retina 2018 Public Engagement Day taking place on Saturday October 6, and to register your attendance, telephone 01 6789 004, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.retina.ie. A nominal fee of €10 applies while attendance is free to members of Fighting Blindness.
|Top Tips for Better Eye Health
To coincide with World Sight Day on Thursday October 11, Fighting Blindness has compiled the following Top Tips for Better Eye Health to encourage us to best care for our eyes.
1. Have Regular Eye Tests
It is recommended that people have an eye test every two years, or every year if aged over 50. A regular eye test can identify any early indications of diseases, some of which are treatable if caught early. It is also important to maximise our vision by wearing the correct prescription glasses or lenses.
2. Don’t Smoke
Our eyes need oxygen to survive. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in our bloodstream, with the result that less oxygen reaches the eye causing damage to the retina and problems such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Quitting smoking can stop damage to the eyes, depending on the severity of the condition. For more information on how to quit, visit www.quit.ie
3. Wear Sunglasses
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun’s rays can cause damage to our eyes and so it is important to wear sunglasses when in the sun. Check they have a UV factor rating and block 100 percent of UV rays, and that they carry the CE safety standard. Close-fitting wraparound glasses will block more light and offer better protection. Be aware that UV rays can still cause damage when it is cloudy and overcast.
4. Eat the Right Food
Some foods can help protect against certain eye conditions, like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, due to the specific nutrients they contain. These nutrients are called lutein or zeaxanthin, and are found in many fruits and vegetables including mango, squash, broccoli, green beans, and spinach.
5. Take Regular Computer Breaks
If using a computer, take frequent breaks from the screen – at least once an hour. Resting the eyes can help you avoid headaches, eyestrain and soreness.
For more tips on eye health, visit www.retina.ie/eye-health-tips