Vision Quest 2015
FALL 2015 - Learn how our community is building a better future at our national education series.
SPRING 2015 - Join us for our cross-Canada stand-up comedy fundraising tour!
Cycle for Sight
JUNE 2015 - Join us for Cycle for Sight and enjoy the perfect one-day ride!
Ride for Sight
JUNE 2015 - Join us for Canada's biggest and longest-running motorcycle charity ride. The best party of the summer!
The Standards Program Trustmark is a mark of Imagine Canada used under licence by The Foundation Fighting Blindness.
News & Events
Restoring Vision with Stem Cells
October 9 (updated November 17), 2015: Montréal - Foundation Fighting Blindness-funded researchers have succeeded in producing large amounts of human photoreceptors from stem cells. These new findings by Dr. Gilbert Bernier from the University of Montreal fuel our hope in stem cells.
Vision Quest attendees learn how to advocate for better vision treatments
October 20 (updated November 17), 2015: Toronto – Scientists, medical doctors, and individuals and families living with vision loss have been gathering at Vision Quest events across Canada to learn about the latest vision research. They learned how to take action to build a better, brighter future together-- learn three ways to take action today.
4th Annual Eye Ball Gala raises $15,000 for Vision Research
Academy of Ophthalmic Education hosts 4th Annual Eye Ball Gala on October 30th to support the Foundation Fighting Blindness. A total of $15,000 was raised for vision research!
Teaching scientists about the research that matters most to you
November 9, 2015 – People with vision loss are changing how scientists think about their research. This is one of the main reasons why we hold our annual conference: Vision Quest. Yes, Vision Quest is about bringing the latest research discoveries to people living with vision loss, but we also know that scientists have much to learn from the patients who they are trying to help.
Treatment Access for Canadians Living with Age-Related Macular Degeneration at Risk
November 6, 2015 - Do you have age-related macular degeneration (AMD)? Then, this story matters to you. Do you care about fair and equitable access to safe medications? Then, this story matters to you too. This story matters to Canadians living with AMD because it could enable regulators to restrict access to sight-saving drugs across the country. But, this is actually a much bigger story that stands to effect all Canadians because it could set a new precedent regarding the regulation and reimbursement of off-label medications.
New Montreal Partnership to Accelerate Vision Research
October 6, 2015: Montréal – This past weekend, we were delighted to bring our educational conference series, Vision Quest, to Montréal for the very first time. We were honoured to be in Montréal for three key reasons. First, the people. Second, the research. And third, to celebrate our new partnership with the Montréal Children’s Hospital Foundation (MCHF).
Argos Fan Exclusive: Have the ultimate pre-game experience and support research!
Here's your chance to have a pre-game experience like no other! Be on the field to high-five the argonaut players as they run into the stadium to face their opponents, all while supporting groundbreaking vision research!
Gene Therapy for a Blinding Eye Disease is Poised for Government Approval
October 5, 2015 – Today is an exciting day for gene therapy! Indeed, it’s a groundbreaking day because we are celebrating the successful results of the first phase 3 gene therapy clinical trial to treat a blinding eye disease.
Spotlight on Stem Cells: Will it work for you?
September 30, 2015 – Over the past few days, there has been much excitement about the latest clinical trial involving stem cells. With headlines boasting a new “stem cell treatment to cure vision loss” – of course people are excited! But, what does this really mean? In this new spotlight on stem cells, we’ll dig a little deeper to get a better understanding of what this latest announcement means for the millions of people who are living with vision loss and eagerly awaiting some kind of treatment.
French Disease Fact Sheets - Les feuillets d'informations sur les maladies de la vue
The Foundation Fighting Blindness does not currently have all of its resources available in French. The Foundation is actively seeking resources to build its capacity to translate all of its educational materials. Thank you to Bayer Health for translating all our eye disease fact sheets. You can access the material here:
Les ressources proposées par La Fondation qui lutte contre la cécité ne sont pas toutes disponibles en français. Nous travaillons à réunir les effectifs nécessaires pour traduire notre matériel éducatif. Nous remercions Bayer d'avoir accepté de traduire les feuillets d'informations sur les maladies de la vue. Vous pouvez les consulter ici.
Finding Your Best Vision Care Pathway: Three Expert Tips
September 28, 2015: London - We know that you have lots of questions about your vision health. We also know that it can be overwhelming to try and become more educated about your eye disease, especially as your vision is declining. So, we are embarking on a new educational initiative: the Vision Care Pathways Project, which puts your questions at the center.
In his opening talk at the London Vision Quest educational session this past Saturday, Dr. Proulx, an ophthalmologist at the Ivey Eye Institute, shared some very valuable insights about vision health that we want to share with you.
National Young Leaders Summit
Are you a visually impaired youth (aged 17-29), living in Canada?
Do you want to learn valuable leadership skills?
Will you help us to imagine a better future for young people living with vision loss?
Tech-talk: Predicting the future with Rylan Vroom
In 2015, what was the coolest new technological development for people living with vision loss? Do you think technology can change the life of someone living with vision loss?
Translating Discoveries into Treatments: What can patients do?
September 16, 2015 - How can we “translate” scientific discoveries into new treatments? In Canada, we are fortunate that top thinkers across the country are working on this question. The answer requires contributions from research scientists and medical doctors, but it also needs the expertise of people from many different sectors, including industry and government. Importantly, the effective translation of vision science into sight-saving therapies requires meaningful input from the patients and families who are living with vision diseases.
But, how can patients help with translating research into treatments? The first step is education. Next, take action! Get involved and help us to raise awareness.
September 14, 2015 - “When I was younger, I never really read about Usher syndrome, I did not want to have anything to do with it.” Until recently, Laura mostly ignored the fact that she was living with a disease that involves both hearing and vision loss. Rather than thinking about her disease, Laura did everything to “live a normal life.” Despite the extra challenge of trying to keep her hearing aids in place during tumbling routines, Laura devoted herself to competitive gymnastics. The hearing loss that she experienced was just part of her everyday life. She didn’t let it stop her.
In January 2015, however, something changed.
Building Better Vision Care Pathways
September 15, 2015 - Vision health is so important, yet we know how difficult it is to find answers to your vision questions. Who should you ask, where, when and how? Should you see a retinal specialist, a general ophthalmologist, an optometrist, an optician, or someone else? What will be covered by your health care insurance? What community supports are available?
Three ways to TAKE ACTION in August
August 18, 2015 – To balance out the lazy summer days of August, we have three ways for you to take ACTION. Read these stories to learn how you can get involved without overheating!
- What do you think about clinical trials for children with inherited eye diseases? Share your ideas by joining this research project
- Eylea Covered in Ontario! We need your voice to ensure equitable access to sight-saving treatments across Canada
- Vision Quest Halifax: Foundation-funded scientists discuss clinical trials and the patient registry
Join our team in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
On Sunday October 18, 2015, join our team in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, as we hit the streets in support of vision research.
Turning Genetic Knowledge into Therapies
Racing team brings the Foundation Fighting Blindness to the NASCAR Canadian Tire circuit
We've shared a lot of news about our national ad campaign over the last couple of months - and are excited to say that a lot of new faces have joined our mission to cure blinding eye disease. Read more about one of our newest supporters: LaForce Racing.
Investing in the Best
Combining stem cells and gene-therapy for a "Smart" sight-saving treatment
Discovery opens new strategy for preventing vision loss
Many Foundation Fighting Blindness-funded projects focus on gradual loss of photoreceptors - the eye's light-sensing cells. Dr. Pamela Lagali goes even deeper, looking at interneuron cells that are connected to photoreceptores - as curing blindness may involve treating the many types of cells that make up the human visual pathway.
Making blind mice see is just the beginning
Dr. Brian Ballios was recently able to restore sight to a mouse in his lab at the University of Toronto - a breathrough moment in vision science. But while curing blindness in mice is exciting, it's not enough for Dr. Ballios. His ultimate goal is to turn these findings into treatments for people living with vision loss.
Expanding the Future of Retinal Gene Therapy
Dr. Robert Molday is building on the success of the RPE65 gene therapy trial to treat Lebers congenital amaurosis by developing strategies to fix much larger genes, including ABCA4, which is associated with Stargardt disease, and MYO7A, which is associated with Usher Syndrome.
Shedding Light on Blindness
Today, we're celebrating the launch of our first-ever national awareness campaign, designed to inspire more Canadians to join the fight against blindness.
Celebrating the Foundation Fighting Blindness Laboratory
March 11, 2015 - With the support of our donors, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is dedicated to strengthening vision research in Canada. As part of our nation-wide effort, we have committed over $1 million to renowned researchers at Toronto Western Hospital since 2007. Today, we’re proud to announce that this long-term support has been recognized with the unveiling of a laboratory, at the hospital’s Krembil Discovery Tower, named after the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Hope & Healing: Molly Burke's Inspiring Journey
March 11, 2015 - At age 4, Molly learned her devastating diagnosis: retinitis pigmentosa - a genetic eye disease that leads to blindness. Today, she's a motivational speaker who sheds light on what it means to live with vision loss.
Young girl inspired by future without blindness
January 13, 2015 - Twelve-year-old Nikita Smith shares her experience living with vision loss, and urges her community to support the effort to cure blinding eye diseases.
Yvonne sees her children for the first time
At the age of 32, Yvonne Felix saw her husband, and her children, for the first time.
After years of marriage, she discovered that her husband Joe looked younger than she had thought, and saw that her son Noah had grown into a vibrant and energetic six year old. Her two-month-old son, Thomas was the perfect baby boy. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
Her newfound sight, granted with the help of a new assistive technology, would change her life.
Orly becomes the first Canadian with Bionic Eye
Last year, Orly Shamir became the first person in Canada to undergo surgery to receive a bionic eye implant. This innovative technology is being observed in a trial funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Can Valproic acid (VPA) be used to treat retinitis pigmentosa? The answer is in the genes
March 4, 2015 - These clinically important results are especially meaningful to Ruanne Lai because in addition to studying RP in the lab, she lives with the disease.
InVision Newsletter - Winter 2015
Watch your mailboxes for our latest InVision Newsletter or check it out online (PDF / DOC). In this issue, 13-year-old Nikita Smith has new hope for a future without blindness thanks to a Foundation-funded discovery of a new LCA gene. Learn how you can get involved, help stop genetic discrimination, give the gift of hope, or remember a loved one.
How do stem cells become photoreceptors? New discovery provides insights with clinical implications
February 17, 2015 - Foundation Fighting Blindness-funded scientists are celebrating a game-changing discovery that contributes to our understanding of how stem cells become photoreceptors – the eye’s light-sensing cells.
What is the difference between Lucentis, Eylea, and Avastin?
February 9, 2015 - Many people who are living with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have questions about the different treatments that are available to them. In particular, people wonder about how Lucentis, Eylea and Avastin differ. These three drugs are all anti-VEGF agents that are injected periodically into the affected eye.
Shorcan Brokers Ltd. donates over $10,000 to vision research
Shorcan employees and clients generously generated over $10,000 to restore hope and sight in one day of trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
You can help prevent genetic discrimination
Did you know that Canada is the only G7 country that does not protect its citizens from genetic discrimination?
New genetic discovery helps to solve the mystery of childhood blindess
2015 Grant Competition - OPEN
2014 Research Review: At a Glance
Vision Quest 2014 Audio Now Available!
Join over 1,050 individuals who took part in our 2014 educational sessions! Audio recordings from Vision Quest 2014 are now available!
Top 10 Moments of 2014
In 2014, our community made great strides toward restoring hope and sight. We have so many fond memories of the last twelve months, and countless stories of success, discovery and inspiration.
Top 10 Discoveries of 2014
We celebrated our organization's 40 year anniversary in 2014, and marked the milestone by contributing more funds to vision research than ever before - $2.2 million dollars!
Saving sight by saving photoreceptors
An FFB-funded study has the potential to generate a unified strategy to promote cell survival throughout the central nervous system.
Vision Quest 2014 in Review
How does the eye respond to motion?
November 28, 2014 - We know that the eye senses light, but how does it sense motion? A new discovery by Foundation-funded scientist, Dr. Gautam Awatramani tranforms how we think about this essential process.
Foundation Fighting Blindness partners with the new Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine to support sight-saving research
November 26, 2014: Dr. Valerie Wallace and her team are planning to lead the fight against blindess in Ontario.
Vision Quest - Thank you!!
November 11, 2014 - Thank you to everyone who attended our 2014 Vision Quest series. Meeting with our community at Vision Quest inspires us to work harder every day!
Stem cell therapies are in the spotlight and everyone is watching the eye
October 29, 2014 - Learn about recent promising developments in two different clinical trials testing how stem cells can be used to fight blindness.
Spotlight on Stem Cells: Interview with Dr. Saeed Khalili, BMO Postdoctoral Fellow in Retinal Research
October 29, 2014 - Stem cell scientist, Dr. Khalili, shares his personal insights about the recent developments in stem cell therapeutics.
Harnessing the Power of Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Fight Age-Related Macular Degeneration
October 22, 2014 - A new Foundation-funded study shows that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help wet AMD patients who are also receiving anti-VEGF injections.
Regenerative Medicine Milestone
October 16, 2014- Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), an early leader in the field of regenerative medicine, recently published data in The Lancet that shows positive results from its ongoing stem cell transplantation trial to treat Stargardt disease and dry age related macular degeneration.
Why do photoreceptors die? New discovery reveals important clues
October 15, 2014: Montréal - We need photoreceptors to see; without them, we have no way to sense light and the world becomes dark. Photoreceptor degeneration is shared by a variety of retinal diseases ranging from retinitis pigmentosa (RP) to age-related macular degeneration. Because of this, scientists are trying to regenerate lost photoreceptors. Dr. Michel Cayouette also wants to know what causes them to start dying in the first place. For Dr. Cayouette, understanding the mechanisms that underlie photoreceptor degeneration is the key to their ultimate protection.
$1 Million To Fight Blindness
October 14, 2014 - This year, Donna Green retired as Chair of the Foundation Fighting Blindness' Board of Directors, after 13 years of incredible leadership. In a remarkable show of support, Donna donated an extraordinary parting gift of $1 million to help sustain scientific momentum toward understanding, preserving and restoring vision.
A New Kind of Vision
October 14, 2014 - Today is a very exciting day at the Foundation Fighting Blindness because we are finally able to start sharing stories from the first Canadian patients to receive the Argus II implant, which used our valuable patient registry to identify the pioneering candidates: Orly Shamir and Ian Nichols.
Can stem cells be used to treat age-related macular degeneration?
September 17, 2014 - The world is watching after a woman in her 70s underwent a groundbreaking surgery in Japan.
Discovery paves the road for new treatments to prevent blindness in babies
An exciting new discovery by Foundation Fighting Blindness-funded scientist, Dr. Jean-Sébastien Joyal and colleagues, opens the door to new treatments for retinopathy of prematurity.
Province honours Foundation volunteers for contributions
Every year, Ontario’s Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade presents the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards to recognize individual volunteers for continuous years of dedicated service to an organization.
Love Your Eyes Contest Launch
September 9 , 2014 - This week, the Opticians Council of Canada launched their online Love Your Eyes contest. Until October 12, answer daily educational health puzzles for your chance to win big weekly prizes. The Foundation Fighting Blindness is proud to be this year's Love Your Eyes Title Sponsor.
Understanding the Link Between Protein Folding and Retinitis Pigmentosa
September 9, 2014 - Recognized as the "American Nobels," the Lasker Awards are a highly prestigious honor in medicine and science. This year, the Basic Medical Research recipients were honoured for their transformative studies of the cellular quality-control system: the unfolded protein response (UPR). Disruptions to UPR are thought to play a critical role in neurodegenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
Donor Survey: Prize Winners
This summer, the Foundation Fighting Blindness invited our entire community of supporters to provide feedback on our work and mission by completing an online survey. For participating, each person who responded was entered into a special prize draw for one of two, brand new KOBO e-readers. Find out if you or someone you know have won!
New Findings on an Eye Drop to Treat Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration
August 28, 2014 - Investigators working with Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc., in the United States have released new findings from their clinical trial of a topical (eye-drop) medication to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These findings show that squalamine eye drops (referred to as OHR-102 by the company) may make current wet AMD treatments more effective, but the eye drops are unlikely to replace treatments by drug injections into the eye.
InVision Newsletter - Fall 2014
Watch your mailboxes for our latest InVision Newsletter or check it out online (PDF / DOC). In this issue, we showcase this year's new research grants, the results of the first oral medication trial to restore vision and the new Donna Green Award to Restore Sight.
MUHC researcher unveils novel treatment for a form of childhood blindness
July 13, 2014 — An international research project, led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, reports that a new oral medication is showing significant progress in restoring vision to patients with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). Until now, this inherited retinal disease that causes visual impairment ranging from reduced vision to complete blindness, has remained untreatable. The study is published today in the scientific journal The Lancet.
Vision Quest 2014: Hope, Emerging Treatments & More
Our educational sessions are coming to a city near you! Registration is now open for Calgary, Hamilton & Toronto!
Eight New Sight-Saving Research Projects
June 17, 2014 - Could an experimental eye drop reverse the blinding effects of retinal disease in young children? Do drugs used to treat osteoporosis and heart disease have an effect on a person's risk of developing age-related macular degeneration? Can we turn on the retina's ability to repair itself? These are just a few of the questions being asked in the new research projects funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness in 2014.
Update on the RPE65 Gene Therapy Trials
May 27, 2014 - Investigators estimate that this trial for one type of Leber congenital amaurosis is about two years from applying for approval in the USA. It will likely be the first gene therapy approved for an inherited retinal disease.
InSight Dinner Honours Volunteers, Supporters
May 12, 2014 - In April, 100 supporters gathered at our annual InSight Dinner in Toronto to celebrate 40 years of advancing eye research and public education.
World's Largest Vision Research Meeting Begins
May 4, 2014 - Scientists from around the world are meeting in Orlando for the annual Association for Vision Research and Ophthalmology conference. Commonly called ARVO, this annual conference is the predominant meeting for vision scientists each year, an opportunity to share new findings and discuss new ideas. We’ll be reporting on the conference over the next few days with news stories on important and intriguing presentations.
Trial of Treatment to Slow Retinitis Pigmentosa Vision Loss Begins in Italy
Apr 15, 2014 - The eye drop uses a nerve growth factor to protect photoreceptors is already being tested to treat another rare eye disease, neurotrophic keratitis.
Celebrating 40 Years of Discovery
April 2, 2014 - The Foundation Fighting Blindness has just released
Celebrating 40 Years of Discovery: Our Report to Donors. It tells the story of Foundation-funded research in Canada, its impact and influence globally, and how these discoveries are evolving into sight-saving therapies.
Accessible Media Inc. launches 2014 Scholarship Program
Apr 2, 2014 - The Foundation Fighting Blindness’ media partner, Accessible Media Inc., is launching a program to award two $5,000 scholarships per year to qualifying individuals, one of which is reserved for a student with a permanent disability.
Geneticist's Sight-Saving Contributions Recognized
Mar 31, 2014 - Dr. Jane Green’s pioneering research with Newfoundland and Labrador families has improved life for thousands of people with inherited retinal diseases - both inside and outside the province. This work has helped define and diagnose several eye diseases. Recently, she was honoured with the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador.
A Link between Exercise and Vision Health
Mar 25, 2014 - Scientists report the first clear evidence of a link between exercise and retinal health and vision.
Petition to Support Rare Disease Treatment
Mar 14, 2014 - Inherited retinal diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease are rare diseases. Because they affect relatively small populations, the process of testing and approving drugs for rare diseases often needs to be different.
In Canada we don’t have a special framework to test and approve rare disease treatments, but we urgently need one. Right now, only 60% of treatments for rare disorders make it into Canada and most are approved much later than in the USA and Europe, where such frameworks exists. Few trials for rare diseases happen in Canada. A commitment to a Canadian framework was announced by Canada’s Health Minister in 2012, and our regulatory agency has drafted it, but it has still not been published or approved.
New Compound May be the Basis of a Promising Drug to Reverse Retinal Blindness
Feb 21, 2014 - California researchers invent a new "photoswitch," which may give light-sensing capacity to retinal nerve cells potentially restoring vision to people with advanced retinal degenerative diseases.
Dr. Bill Stell Reflects on the Foundation History of Sight-Saving Research
Feb 10, 2014 - For nearly 30 years, Dr. Bill Stell has volunteered his time and scientific expertise to help the Foundation Fighting Blindness select and fund scientific projects with the power to make a difference. We talked to him about how the science has changed over the past 40 years, and why he continues to be a passionate advocate for the Foundation.
Shorcan Brokers Ltd. donates over $10,000 to help vision research
Feb 11, 2013 - The 16th annual Shorcan Brokers Ltd. Charity Day raised a total of $10,827 for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. This is the 6th year Shorcan, TMX Group's fixed income interdealer brokerage, has supported the Foundation, bringing their total contribution to $61,362!
The unique one-day event contributed proceeds from the day's trading to select charities, among them the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Testing the Safety of Induced Stem Cell Therapies
Feb 5, 2014 - Cells derived from induced pluipotent stem cells will soon be used in a clinical trial for dry age-related macular degeneration and may be used for other conditions as well. How are scientists addressing concerns about the potential cancer risk?
Forty years ago, Jay and Malca Marin applied to become a registered charity to fight blindness
Jan 20, 2014 - Forty years ago, Jay and Malca Marin applied to become a registered charity to fight blindness – and were rejected. But they didn’t give up. Instead, they dedicated their lives to creating the Foundation Fighting Blindness (then RP Foundation). Today, it’s Canada’s leading charity funding sight-saving research.
First gene therapy results for choroideremia suggest cautious optimism
Jan 16, 2014 - Results of the first six patients treated in the British gene therapy trial for choroideremia were released today. While many questions remain unanswered, the two most visually impaired participants experienced significant vision improvements. Canadian investigators at the University of Alberta will be able to build on these results, as the treatment of trial participants there will begin later this year.
Tech-talk: Predicting the future with Rylan Vroom
Why do you think that technology can change the life of someone living with vision loss? How does technology impact your life? In 2015, what was the coolest new technological development for people living with vision loss?
Partnering with the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation to Accelerate Vision Research
October 6, 2015: Montreal – This past weekend, we were delighted to bring our educational conference series, Vision Quest, to Montreal for the very first time. We were honoured to be in Montreal for three key reasons. First, the people. Second, the research. And third, to celebrate our new partnership with the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation (MCHF).