New Zealand Sites and Sources

Geneticists and Genetic Counsellors

If you've been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa or another eye condition with genetic origins, you may want to speak to a geneticist or genetic counsellor.  They are based at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch Hospitals.

  • Auckland: (09) 307 4949 or call free 0800 476 123
  • Wellington: (04) 385 5310 or call free 0508 364 436
  • Christchurch: (03) 379 1898 or call free 0508 364 436

Macular Degeneration New Zealand

MDNZ is a charitable trust which aims to increase public awareness of macular degeneration and reduce its incidence and impact in New Zealand. Their website has illustrated information on macular degeneration, treatments, risk factors, nutrition and supplements, and an on-line test for warning signs.  MDNZ also runs free seminars on MD around the country.  Visit their website to see when and where they're being held.

New Zealand Association of Optometrists

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists website has information on eye health and a range of eye conditions.  NZAO also leads the annual Save Our Sight month-long public awareness campaign for eye health and safety.  Education resources produced for the campaign are available on the NZAO website's "Interesting Stuff" page.  For example:

  • information about lighting for people with low vision, and effective colour contrast;
  • PowerPoint presentations illustrating several eye topics, including diabetes and the eye, age-related macular degeneration, and low vision and the eye conditions that can cause it.

Low Vision Aids and Equipment

Low vision aids and equipment range from the traditional, like magnifying lenses and large print books, through household equipment such as adapted kitchen utensils and easy-to-see big button telephones, to assistive technology like hand held electronic magnifiers and portable or desktop magnifiers (closed circuit television, or CCTV) for text, photos, and other items.

Some CCTVs are stand alone, others can be connected to your computer.  They are expensive, so before investing in one it's worth getting an assessment of your specific vision and work or hobby needs, or at least attending a demonstration of product capabilities.

  • Optometrists can advise on low vision aids and options; Retina NZ's Your Blue Book includes a list of optometrists who offer low vision appointments.
  • Adaptive Technology Solutions Ltd. facilitates access to and use of assistive technology, including assessments and training.
  • Sight Loss Services offers information, equipment, and support.
  • The Blind Foundation has an on-line Equipment Shop. (Prices are subsidised for Blind Foundation members.)  Anybody is welcome to attend their equipment display days that are held around New Zealand.  Information about display days is on their website.
  • The websites of Pacific Vision and Humanware have information about adapative technology products.
  • The Mobile Eye app is a system that helps blind people identify objects and their surroundings using their mobile phones. It was developed by an AUT led-team and trialled with volunteers from the Blind Foundation.  Check out this youtube video.  You can contact the Mobile Eye team via the Mobile Eye website.

Low Vision Clinics

Low Vision Clinics help people make the most of their remaining vision by providing living skills assessments and advice.  There are several around New Zealand. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can tell you if there is one in your locality, whether a referral is necessary, and if you would be eligible for referral.

Optometrists and Ophthalmologists

To find an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist near you:

  • Optometrist: Use the New Zealand Association of Optometrists "Locate an Optometrist" search function, or contact their national office on (04) 473 2322 or call free 0800 439 322.
  • Ophthalmologist: Go to the Services & Support/Find a Health Service section at Health Navigator NZ.  Enter "ophthalmology" as the health service you are looking for.  Then browse by region to find an ophthalmologist near you.

Alternatively, your GP or practice nurse will know of eye professionals based in your area or who hold regular clinics there.

VICTA

Visual Impairment Charitable Trust Aotearoa was established in 2013 to address the unmet needs of the growing number of NZers whose degree of vision loss is severe enough to make everyday activities difficult, but who are not eligible for Blind Foundation membership.

And finally:

The following pamphlets are available from Retina NZ:

  • Where do you turn ... when you're losing your sight? (About Retina NZ)
  • Coping Strategies: tips for adjusting to vision loss
  • Pamphlets on Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Cataracts, and Retinal Detachedment.
  • Take the Amsler Test: a self-testing card for early detection of macular degeneration

These are free to members. A charge is made to non-members to cover printing and postage.

And don't forget that our quarterly Newsletter has lots of information!

Retinal photographs on this website are courtesy of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists. Other photographs in our page headers are courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.