News & Events


Why is marketing approval for the first retinal gene therapy treatment for patients with blinding retinal degenerations so significant?  Is there a future for applying stem cell therapy to treating retinal disorders?  What are the scientific and ethical challenges in the use of stem cells?

How have researchers from the fields of ophthalmology, vision science, biophysics, neuroscience, neurosurgery, engineering and material sciences come together to restore vision using implants for electric or optic stimulation of the visual system?  How will augmented reality and virtual reality liberate sight-impaired people in an exciting new age of accessibility?

Being part of a Retina International World Congress is a unique experience in optimism and inspiration – an experience generated by bringing together some of the world’s foremost retinal scientists and clinicians along with leaders in patient advocacy and peer support.

Our March 2018 Newsletter - now available on our Newsletter page contains a range of members' perspectives on the Congress.


You can read about the speakers here.

Saturday 10 February

8.00   Registration    

9:00    Welcome – Auckland University and Retina International Hosts

9:30    Keynote: Retinal Degenerations - a clinical overview - Professor Elise Héon

10:00  Keynote: Progress in Therapy of Retinal Degeneration - the Who and the How – Professor Eric Pierce

10:30  Morning Tea

11:00 Plenary Session: Genetics and Gene Therapy

***Clinical diagnosis in Inherited Retinal Diseases – clues to the genetic diagnosis, Andrea Vincent ***Advances in Genetic Testing in Inherited Retinal Diseases, Alex Hewitt *** Novel/non-coding causes of Inherited Retinal Diseases, Eric Pierce *** Identifying patients for clinical trials/The logistics of undertaking a clinical trial, Jean Bennett *** Progress and lessons learned from the UK Gene Therapy Trials, Tom Edwards***

1:00    Lunch

1.15   A Free Lunchtime Seminar by the Blind Foundation:  Beyond vision loss: international perspectives on vision rehabilitation policy.

2:00    Parallel Sessions:

Session 1A: Clinical Aspects of Retinal Degenerations

*** Prevalence and inheritance of Inherited Retinal Diseases – using databases as a tool, Andrea Vincent *** Developing patient relevant outcomes in clinical trials, Elise Héon *** Paediatric low vision and supportive services, Shuan Dai *** Surgical considerations in Inherited Retinal Disease, Tom Edwards *** Treatment possibilities, Dan Chung (Spark Therapeutics)***

Session 1B: Clinical Aspects of AMD and Other Maculopathies

*** Treatment advancements in AMD, Narme Deva *** Advances in Diabetic Eye Disease – clinical understanding and treatment, Rachel Barnes *** Advances in Imaging in AMD diagnosis, David Squirrell *** FRB/Patient Registries/Big Data role in evolving treatment regimens, Mark Gillies *** AMD in NZ, statistics and advocacy to optimise treatment options, Dianne Sharp ***

3:30    Afternoon Tea

4:00    Plenary Session: Stem Cells

*** Stem Cell basics and using stem cells to model eye disease, Alice Pébay *** CRISPR gene editing in Retinal Disease, Alex Hewitt *** From treatment development to implementation – why is it taking so long, Kent Small ***

Sunday 11 February – 9:00am to 4:30pm

8.00  Registration

9:00    Scientific Breaking News

Keynote: Current and Emerging Gene Therapies for Inherited Retinal Disease, Professor Jean Bennett

*** ReNeuron Clinical Trial – Stem Cell base therapies, Eric Pierce *** New understandings of AMD Pathogenesis, Diane Sharp *** AMD therapeutic trials, Mark Gillies *** Robotic surgery in Inherited Retinal Disease, Tom Edwards ***

11:00  Morning Tea

11:30 Plenary Session:

Keynote: Artificial Vision – Past, Present and Future, Tom Edwards

*** Bionic Vision Australia, Penny Allen *** Argus 2 – the surgical procedure and clinical journey, Thiran Jayasundera ***

1:00    Lunch

1.15   Quantum RLV Presentation: Latest Vision Aids and technology supporting independence, Rob Drummond, Quantum RLV

2:00   Parallel Sessions for Patients and Professionals:

Patient Session 2A: Low Vision Rehabilitation

*** Enhancing Visual Function, Sandy Grant and Olga Brochner *** How will I read, how will I write, how will I communicate? Matt Rudland *** Life without limits – how we enable people who are blind or have low vision to be self-reliant and live the life they choose, The Blind Foundation *** Advanced and future technologies in blindness and low vision – what do we want and why? Jonathan Mosen ***

Patient Session 2B: Independence and Self-Determination - are the Barriers Real?

*** Leadership in a sighted world, Robert Greenberg *** Travelling with a sight loss – an interactive panel session, Avril Daly, Fraser Alexander, Tony Haas and Zane Bartlett *** Parents’ Perspectives, Tim Corbett *** Learned in the law, David Heaney QC ***

Healthcare Professionals and Vision Scientists Session 2C:  Accredited course for early career and general medical practitioners, Optometrists, Occupational Therapists and Rehabilitation Professionals

*** Syndromic Retinal Degenerations, Elise Héon *** Surgery in Artificial Vision, Penny Allen *** Diabetic Eye Disease – optimising vision in 2018, Rachel Barnes *** Stem Cells, Alice Pébay *** Advances in drug delivery to the retina, Ilva Rupenthal ***

3:30    Keynote: What Have We Learned? –  Professor Gerald Chader – A reflective summary of the presentations.

4:20    Closing Remarks

Retina NZ AGM & National Conference

The date and venue for our 2018 Conference will be posted here shortly.

Auckland 2017

Our 2017 AGM & Conference was held in Auckland on 26 August at the Quality Hotel Conference Centre in Parnell.

As well as the presentations from our guest speakers, we launched the NZ Low Vision Handbook, developed from our Blue Book.

Dr Mary Butler (Otago Polytechnic Occupational Therapy School) gave a report on the lighting project she had been working on, and brought along the LUX-IQ lighting tool for participants to try out.

Keri McMullan gave an insightful account from the Low Vision Simulation research project - an invaluable framework for low vision groups as we strive to raise awareness and understanding. A downloadable copy of Keri's paper will be available shortly on our Research page.

Next was a stimulating session with Dr Gretchen Good and Dr Suzanne Phibbs, both from Massey University, on the experiences of vision-impaired people during the Christchurch earthquakes, and our ability to cope in any disaster.

Hannah Kerston gave an enthusiastic update on the 2018 International Congress and the world-class speakers who will be coming.  Associate Professor Andrea Vincent was responsible for the scientific content, and she has put together an exciting programme with speakers from Europe, USA, Australia and NZ.  Information about the Congress speakers is on the Congress Website.

More reports from our AGM & Conference are in our September 2017 edition of Retina NewZ.

To read brief reports from other recent Conferences Click here.

Regular Meetings

In several locations VIP (Visually Impaired Persons) Groups get together regularly for companionship, support, and practical tips on getting along with low vision.

Tauranga usually meets at 10.30 am till 12 noon on the first Saturday of the month in the Okahukura Room at the Tauranga Library.  Contact: Sara (07) 577 6526.

Kapiti meets at 1.30 pm on the 3rd Monday of each month in the Kapiti Community Centre at Paraparaumu. Contact: Elizabeth (04) 299 1800.

Waikanae normally meets at 1.00 pm on the first Monday of each month in the Pop-In Centre, Mahara Place. Contact: Sue (04) 293 5174.

Newlands normally meets at 1.00 pm on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at the Newlands Community Centre. Contact Gael: (04) 970 3575.

Dunedin meets at 1.30 - 3.00 pm on the 4th Wednesday of each month (except December) at Dunedin Public Library, 4th Floor, Dunnington Suite.  Contact: Lynley (03) 4877 686.

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.