Top 10 Things We Learned at Vision Quest 2017

November 7th, 2017 by Dr. Mary Sunderland

Vision Quest is the FFB’s educational program series that brings trusted information about emerging sight-saving treatments to people living with vision loss. This year, Vision Quest brought together more than 860 people at 9 different events across Canada.

The entire FFB staff participates in Vision Quest because it gives us the opportunity to learn directly from the experts about the cutting-edge research that is driving the development of new treatments.

Here are the top 10 things we learned from coast-to-coast.

1.  For an eye-healthy diet, take Dr. Amin Kherani’s advice to “eat things that are green, that fly or swim.”

2.  Emerging treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration will prolong the period between injections. Learn directly about these developments from Dr. Netan Choudhry by jumping to the 30:30 time mark in part 1 of his Vision Quest video.

3.  There are many ongoing gene therapy clinical trials for inherited blinding eye diseases, some of which welcome Canadians patients – thanks to Dr. Adrian Timmers for sharing news about AGTC’s trials for x-linked retinoschisis.

4.  Learning your “genetic diagnosis” is important for patients who are interested in emerging clinical trials for inherited retinal diseases because many of these trials require you to “know your gene.” Genetic testing for inherited blinding eye diseases has dramatically improved and it is becoming much easier to get your genetic testing done. Check out our Guide to Genetic Testing to learn more and stay tuned for 2017 updates to our guide!

5.  Heath Quality Ontario (HQO) has recommended to publicly fund the Argus retinal implant as a treatment for advanced retinitis pigmentosa! These recommendations are under review and are set for release in early 2018. We were thrilled to welcome Nancy Sikich from HQO to our Toronto Vision Quest event where Dr. Robert Devenyi shared the latest developments with Argus.

6.  Dr. Devenyi shared the incredible news that Rozina Issani has achieved the greatest improvements to her vision than any of the more than 150 other Argus recipients worldwide!

7.  More than 280 million people have low vision or blindness because of photoreceptor problems – these are the eye’s light-sensitive cells.

  1. 8.  Regular visits to your eye doctor can save your vision! Diabetes-related vision loss is an epidemic, but it doesn’t need to be because there are a number of effective treatments. We learned so much from Dr. Alejandro Oliver and Dr. Stephen Kosar about the devastating connection between diabetes and blindness.

9.  Clinical trials are an essential kind of research on the path to making new treatments a reality – but, not all clinical trials are safe. To learn more about legitimate clinical trials, check with an expert, seek a second opinion, and check with us at the FFB! We are working on updated our resources about clinical trials to incorporate everything we learned at Vision Quest this year.

  1. 10. According to Dr. Robert Koenekoop, there are three ways to accelerate the pace of research: LEARN; DONATE, and PARTICIPATE!

Vision Quest inspires and motivates us because it brings together the many different stakeholders who are playing a critically important role in fighting blindness, including: the scientists who are working in their laboratories, the clinicians who are testing new treatments in clinical trials, and our industry partners: Bayer Healthcare, Novartis, Allergan, Shire, Spark Therapeutics, and AGTC, who are committed to developing new treatments for blinding eye diseases. Vision Quest also includes the government regulatory experts and decision makers who help to determine the accessibility of innovative treatments in Canada. Most importantly, Vision Quest brings together people who are living with vision loss. Together, this is a very powerful group; indeed, together we can make new treatments a reality!