News & Events


When:  10 – 11 February 2018

Where: Owen G. Glenn Building, University of Auckland, Grafton Road, Auckland.

Conference Co-ordinator: Aimee Crawshaw.  Email:

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 the global leaders in patient advocacy and peer support.

Retina 2018 New Zealand offers patients and their families, clinicians, rehabilitation professionals, students and anyone with an interest in retinal disorders interactive learning and networking opportunities.  The programme includes short scientific presentations, treatment approach plenaries, clinician-focussed and patient-focussed educational forums and social events.

Session themes include: gene therapies, bionic vision, stem cell treatment, low vision strategies, patient-focussed forums and clinician-focussed education.  An outline of the programme can be found here.

There's also a Youth programme for the 18 to 35s.


Early Bird Registrations close on 1 November 2017.  Click on this link for registration prices, and to register.


February is a busy time in Auckland and accommodation is likely to sell-out quickly, so we recommend that you book yours soon. Please see the accommodation listings on the Congress Website for a range of options.

Retina NZ AGM & National Conference

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.

Hamilton 2016

Our 2016 AGM and Conference was held in Hamilton on Saturday 27 August 2016.

Our guest speaker was Dr. Emma Sandford MBChB, FRCOphth (UK).  Emma - Ophthalmologist, Herbal and Traditional Chinese Medicine enthusiast - discussed how we might use scientifically proven natural healing techniques in relation to managing our eyesight, with specific focus on RP and AMD.

Dieu Nguyen & Vildana Praljak (from Vision Australia) gave a client-focused overview of their interactive low vision workshop “Strength, Balance & Positive Thinking”. A unique workshop to explore the impact of vision loss on the body, particularly in relation to balance, posture, coordination, and general physical wellbeing.

This year some amendments to our Constitution were approved; you can download them here.

Wellington 2015

Our 2015 AGM and Conference was held in Wellington on Saturday 29 August at the Blind Foundation in Adelaide Road.  Around 40 people attended the AGM, with an additional 10 or so arriving later for the Conference sessions.

Our first Conference speaker was Genevieve McLachlan of Adaptive Technology Solutions, on the types of assessments available and the product range for people with low vision: electronic magnifiers, screen reading through magnification software, and combinations of text magnification and speech support.  She also touched on technologies to aid people with other conditions, e.g. computer games to help retrain the brain after injury or stroke.  Also noted were the Noel Leeming Service Support Centres, which offer training to anybody getting to grips with new tech items.

Rick Hoskin, Chair of the Blind Foundation Board of Directors, updated members on the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, and the Foundation Engagement Roadshows.  In 2015 The Blind Foundation celebrated its 125th Anniversary, so we had a cake for him to cut to mark the occasion.

He was followed by Brian Hare (Head of Property, Currency and Security at the Reserve Bank) and Vivienne Saunders, Communications Manager for the launch of the new banknotes to be phased in from 12 October.  They outlined the development and production process for new notes, including engagement with vision-impaired groups on readability and colour.

After lunch Mary Fisher, Paralympian swimmer and member of the Blind Foundation since she was 6 weeks old, talked about her early training, swimming as a great equalizer for a teenager, qualifying or the London Paralympics, and what's the same/what's different for Paralympians; getting sponsorship is a tougher call. Mary is also learning to play the Mbira, an instrument with a wooden board and metal keys.

Andrew Black, optometrist and low vision expert, spoke on MD, genetic and eye environmental risk factors, treatments - with reference to Avastin and Eylea, and research into genetic therapy.  He also touched on the effect of using computer screens at night and blue light as a brain stimulator, affecting sleep patterns, and suitable lens coatings for filtering this out.  This was followed by a lively and wide-ranging discussion on the availability of low vision services, referral processes, and possible models for accessible services nationwide.

Tony Haas, a former President of Retina NZ, then spoke about his book Being Palangi, to be launched on 1 September.

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.