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May 2002, Number 13
Lack of space prevented President Tony Haas from adding to his regular column this time, so I want to tell you that the Executive Committee will be in Auckland on 25/26 May, to be part of the coalition meeting called by the RNZFB CEO of all its Special Interest groups to talk about progress in their own societies. Now that the RNZFB Act 1963 has been repealed by Parliament, future steps that we all have to be aware of, such as the coming Referendum to decide whether the NZ Foundation of the Blind should become an Incorporated Society or not will be on the agenda.
Last year our Executive resolved to take an initiative to facilitate a Pacific Peoples' blindness programme. As a result of this Tony Haas has arranged partnership talks on the strategic planning and relationships appropriate to this with Ms Vita Endeman, RNZFB Manager of Pacific Services and Chris Inglis, Director of Blindness Awareness and Prevention. This Partnership is to try to reduce the incidence of blindness through diabetes, which affects a high number of Pacific Island people. Afioga Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, MP, will join in this discussion on how we can work together to achieve this objective when they meet at Awhina House on 24th May.
"Eye on the Future", a Joint Symposium of the 12th World Congress of Retina International (RI) and the 50th meeting of the Japanese Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision is to be held in Chiba, Japan from 31 July to 4 August. Representing New Zealand are Retina President Tony Haas and International Delegate Fraser Alexander. The main purpose of the meeting is to bring together RI people with scientific members of the society who are interested in the field of electrophysiology of vision in Japan and for Japanese low vision and age-related macular degeneration societies in Japan. This is the first meeting of the Asian-Oceanic region ophthalmologists, patients, societies and their patrons.
What's inside this issue? We have the usual mix of articles on Research, Coping, People, letters to the Editor and more. Hope you enjoy reading it, amd don't forget to fill in your form which came with this newsletter, and retrurn it with your subscription.
June Ombler, Editor Phone : 03 455 8813, Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM THE PRESIDENT'S DESK
By Anthony Haas, 5 May 2002
How your voice may be heard
Prime Minister Helen Clark has advised Retina New Zealand and those interested in similar issues to monitor the performance of the New Zealand Disability Strategy (NZDS).
I wrote to her on your behalf on 12 November 2001, in consultation with individuals prominent in the affairs of the Disabled Persons Assembly, essentially because RNZFB CEO Jane Holden had described the NZDS as needing government budget to prevent it being more than a wish list. I advised the PM I wished to make her answer public, and it follows for you to use.
By the time you read this, government actions and inactions on the NZDS will be evident from the annual government Budget. The challenge to our society and those with whom we do and should work is to keep searching out ways of having our voices heard. That is a major challenge for us, and should be pursued at all levels as our civic right and obligation.
Helen Clark said to us on 12 March 2002:
"You raise issues related to operational aspects of implementing the NZDS. As you are aware, the NZDS creates a national framework to address disability issues across agencies, legislation, policies, and services.
Implementation of the NZDS is expected to be an ongoing process. Ten key government departments drew up NZDS implementation plans for 2001/2002. From 2002/2003 all government departments are expected to develop and report on annual implementation plans. At present departments are preparing the 2002/2003 NZDS implementation plans, which will be reviewed by the Ministry of Health.
The implementation and planning process encourages departments to incorporate the NZDS into their budget plans and broader work plans. It should be noted that government agencies often start to prepare budgets and work plans six to eight months before the financial year, which begins in July.
I strongly encourage organisations and individuals outside central government to be involved in the implementation of the NZDS. Disability sector organisations can take the opportunity presented by the NZDS to proactively engage with relevant government agencies to make them aware of important issues. Of course, participating in formal consultation processes continues to be an important way for organisations and individuals to be involved in the implementation of the NZDS.
Government departments are increasingly drawing on the expertise of people with disabilities and disability organisations in their work. For example, I am aware that departments are working with people with disabilities to create accessible websites. People with disabilities are now also being included in working groups and reference groups as a matter of course.
I agree that monitoring is essential to the successful implementation of the NZDS. A monitoring framework for the NZDS is being developed. Evaluation of departments' actions will contribute to annual progress reports from the Minister for Disability Issues. Overall progress on implementing the NZDS will also be evaluated after five years and 10 years.
The progress in implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy report for 1 July to 30 September 2001 was published recently. This report is the first step in measuring our progress. The report is available at www.nzds.govt.nz
Copies are also available from the Ministry of Health in a number of formats, including Braille and large print, on request.
Once again, thank you for writing.
Helen Clark Prime Minister
SPINACH VISION CHIP By Tom Hoglund, U. S. Foundation Fighting Blindness, 11 January, 2002
Researchers often look to nature for inspiration in solving complex scientific problems. Dr Elias Greenbaum and colleagues from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratories have been studying photosynthesis in spinach plants to overcome design challenges in developing an artificial retina for patients with extreme vision loss from retinal degeneration. Like photoreceptor cells in the retina, plants capture light and convert it into an electrical signal. Although spinach plants ultimately use light to synthesize sugars, the Oak Ridge scientists think that a complex of proteins involved in photosynthesis, known collectively as Photosystem 1, may also be useful in designing a prosthetic retina capable of processing light and creating useful vision. Greenbaum and his colleagues are collaborating with Foundation-funded researcher Dr Mark Humayun of the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California Medical School.
Photosystem 1 generates electrical voltage after being exposed to light rays. By harnessing this natural process in the laboratory, Dr Greenbaum and his colleagues determined that these proteins are capable of producing up to one volt of electrical energy. Further work is needed to determine whether the electrical voltage produced by Photosystem 1 can be used to stimulate the network of nerve cells in the retina that receive signals from photoreceptor cells and relay them to the optic nerve. In addition to testing Photosystem 1 for its electrical activity, Dr Greenbaum's team is developing a method to deliver the protein complex to the eye using specially designed bio-engineered cells.
Although highly theoretical in concept, Photosystem 1 might be useful in safely creating and transmitting electrical signals produced by an artificial retina. Such a biologic approach might overcome the complications associated with traditional, electronic power supplies. Most electronic power supplies emit heat as a consequence of creating and generating power. Constant heat exposure could damage the healthy nerve cells that relay images to the optic nerve, thereby negating the intended benefit of an artificial retina.
These and other hurdles, once crossed, could one day bring an entirely new medical breakthrough based on one of the oldest and most fundamental biochemical processes on the planet.
EDITOR: This idea is many years away from being able to be used by people with retinal degenerations if it is proved possible. So, in the meantime keep up eating at least three servings a week of dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or silver beet to protect your eyes the natural way.
GENETICISTS DISCOVER LINK TO INHERITED RETINAL DISEASE Houston, Texas, 21 February 2002
Researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston have discovered a surprising link between a well-studied gene involved in DNA synthesis and inherited retinal diseases. According to a research study published in the March issue of Human Molecular Genetics, mutations in inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase 1, or IMPDH1, are expected to cause from five to 10 percent of one form of retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that affects approximately one out of 3,500 people worldwide.
"Both forms of IMPDH have been extensively studied for 20 years, but no one had thought to look at its function in the eye," said Sara Bowne, Ph. D. , lead author of the study and research associate in the Human Genetics Center at the UT-Houston School of Public Health. "Several classes of drugs are known to affect IMPDH proteins, and this suggests that treatments may someday be available for people with this form of retinitis pigmentosa. "
The retina is a complex neurological tissue that detects and absorbs light, transmitting it to the brain where it is processed as visual images. Due to slow retinal degeneration, individuals with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) experience night blindness, gradual loss of peripheral vision, and eventual blindness later in life.
The body produces two forms of this same molecule, IMPDH1 and IMPDH2, and both play critical roles in nucleotide (precursors for DNA and RNA) synthesis. Interestingly, IMPDH1 alone seems to be critical for normal vision, and mutations in this gene result in the RP10 form of autosomal dominant RP (adRP). (When a genetic disease is autosomal dominant, only one copy of the mutated gene is required to cause disease and the gene in question is not found on chromosome X or Y, the chromosomes that determine sexuality).
Stephen Daiger, Ph. D. , is the director of the Laboratory for Molecular Diagnosis of Inherited Eye Diseases at UT-Houston, where Bowne and Lori S. Sullivan, Ph. D. , associate professor in the Human Genetics Center, work together to unravel the unexpected role of IMPDH1 in human vision.
"It is interesting from a scientific point of view," said Daiger, who is also professor of human genetics at the UT-Houston School of Public Health and a faculty member at the UT-Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. "This enzyme is found throughout the body, yet we find that individuals with mutations in the IMPDH1 gene have no other physical problems except retinal degeneration. "
Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that when the mouse IMPDH1 gene is removed, the mice appear to be normal. However, Bowne said, no one thought to find out if the mice could actually see. As it turns out, it is difficult to tell if a laboratory mouse is blind unless they are tested in specialized behavioral or physiological studies. "Our collaborators at UNC may have never known about the effects in the retina if IMPDH1 hadn't been found to be associated with adRP," Bowne said.
Mutations in IMPDH1 have been identified in six adRP families to date, but Bowne said that number is expected to increase as other families with histories of RP are tested. "We are setting up collaborations with IMPDH researchers around the world," Bowne said. "Because we all share the same goal of curing this disease, we can work together and combine our areas of expertise. "
Discovery of IMPDH1's role in inherited eye diseases, combined with all that is currently known about the family of IMPDH proteins, should increase the urgency for the development of IMPDH1-specific drugs. "We're not starting from zero, and our finding may one day lead to faster development of treatments or cures for this debilitating disease," Bowne said.
MEDICAL CURES FOR LENS CATARACT? From: Dr Paul Donaldson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Auckland University.
Recent research conducted in the Molecular Vision Laboratory at the University of Auckland has discovered that the lens and the ciliary body abundantly express a variety of receptors that are activated by extracellular nucleotides. This raises the possibility that these receptors can be used as drug targets to develop novel therapies to combat eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma.
Loss of lens transparency or cataract is the leading cause of blindness in the world today and the incidence of the disease is projected to increase exponentially as the world's population ages. The current treatment is to surgically remove the lens and replace it with a plastic implant. Glaucoma is another degenerative eye disease that currently affects 1% of the human population. Current treatments for glaucoma focus on reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) a major risk factor associated with the onset of glaucoma. Conventional anti-glaucoma drugs aim to either lower aqueous humour production or increase outflow facility and patients often suffer from systematic side effects.
As part of an ongoing effort to investigate whether these receptors can be used to treat these devastating eye diseases, Ms Rebeeca Hu recently undertook a summer research project in the Molecular Vision Laboratory which was supported by the S. A. and G. J. Ombler Trust.
The objective of this ten-week project was to determine precisely where in the lens these receptors are located. To achieve this, antibodies that specifically target the nucleotide receptors were used to label thin sections cut through the lens. These studies showed that these receptors co-localise with cell-to-cell channels that facilitate communication in the lens. This is an exciting result since these channels have been implicated in initiation of lens cataract.
To capitalise on the findings of her summer studentship Ms Hu plans to enrol in a PhD at the University of Auckland. Her PhD research project will focus on investigating the functional relationship between these receptors and cell-to-cell channels in the lens. It is hoped that Ms Hu's work will bring us one step closer to a medical cure for lens cataract that will prevent the projected alarming increase in the incidence of cataract.
FOUNDATION RESEARCHERS LAUNCH RETINAL IMPLANT STUDY From U. S. Foundation Fighting Blindness, 1 May 2002
Foundation-supported researchers at the University of Southern California have implanted a microelectronic retinal prosthesis into a patient who is blind from retinitis pigmentosa. This experimental surgery is part of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved phase 1 clinical trial to test the safety of a permanently implanted retinal prosthesis. These high-tech medical devices might one day restore ambulatory vision, allowing patients with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and Usher syndrome to regain their independence and mobility.
Drs Mark Humayun and Eugene de Juan of the Doheny Retina Institute at USC originally conceived and pioneered the retinal prosthesis. The prototype used in this clinical trial was then further developed and refined by Second Sight, LLC of Valencia, CA. Commenting on the project, Dr Humayun said, "The Foundation Fighting Blindness provided crucial funding support in the early phases of this research. Their early and continued support helped make this clinical trial possible. "
News of this clinical trial and a previously announced phase 1 study conducted by researchers from Optobionics in Chicago has understandably generated much excitement and hope among patients. At this time, data concerning the effectiveness of these devices are not yet available. Nonetheless, it is extremely encouraging to witness a second research group begin clinical trial testing of a retinal prosthetic device.
Dr Humayun performed the first surgery on February 19, 2002. Two more pre-selected patients will receive these devices in the near future. Once it has been determined that a permanently implanted device is safely tolerated, then larger scale clinical trials, testing the effectiveness of the device, can begin.
In retinal degenerative diseases, photoreceptor cells in the retina degenerate and die. Photoreceptor cells capture light photons and turn them into electrical signals that are then passed to the optic nerve via a network of nerve cells in the retina. Despite the loss of these cells, most other nerve cell types in the retina remain relatively healthy. Retinal prosthetic devices are designed to mimic the function of photoreceptor cells. The Second Sight prosthesis, implanted within the eye, measures 4 millimetres by 5 millimetres and contains 16 electrodes in a 4-by-4 array. "Each electrode can excite a lot of remaining nerve cells in the retina," says Humayun, "though we don't yet know exactly how many. "
The prosthesis receives electronic signals captured by a small camera mounted on a pair of glasses. The images are transmitted to the prosthesis via a receiver implanted behind the ear. In the initial phases of this trial, the device will only be turned on when the patient is under medical supervision.
Although Drs Humayun and de Juan have previously tested the device in patients on a short-term basis, the device was always removed immediately. Barring complications, the device will remain permanently implanted, giving researchers an opportunity to test the long-term safety and tolerability of the device.
HOW CONTRAST CAN HELP IF YOU HAVE RETINAL DEGENERATION
By Heather Arthur, Rehabilitation Teacher Techniques of Daily Living Practice Advisor, RNZFB
What is contrast? In relation to vision impairment, when asked "What is contrast?", most think of colour. However, it may relate to any or all of the five senses.
Examples of this are:
Sight - colour, size or shape; big or small; square or round; short or tall.
Touch - rough or smooth; hot or cold; steel or concrete; size or shape.
Sound - loud or quiet; drum or violin; bird song or sheep "baa".
Taste - texture; sour or sweet; bland or spicy.
Smell - fresh baked bread and burnt toast; smoke, fire, grass, flowers.
When we make comparisons in all aspects of our daily life we become conscious of distinct contrast and can use this to our advantage. Contrast has always been there, it is certainly not new. However, recognising and making use of the five senses in conjunction with contrast may be advantageous to us in our daily life.
When we analyse how contrasts are used in daily living, the five senses become integrated as you respond to contrast or change. It is simply a matter of recognizing the various forms of contrast and how we use them.
The following may assist you to think of the various ways to use contrast, including colour. Contrast of size and shape may be used to identify cans of food. For example, canned sardines are a very distinctive shape and size. Tinned pineapple is often a unique shape. Baked beans can be purchased in a small can in contrast to tinned fruit in a medium size. Spaghetti may be purchased with an opening tab on top, Pet food often has the label printed directly on the tin, while most food products have paper labels.
Utilizing all five senses becomes obvious when you think of the various aspects of food preparation. For example:
* Fresh or raw fruit and vegetables contrast in smell, touch, sound (when cut or eaten), and their taste and colour may be quite different when these foods are cooked.
* Contrast of size and shape, texture, taste or smell can be used when identifying various fruits and vegetables, e. g. apples and pears.
* Most of us recognize the smell of burnt food in contrast to that wonderful smell of freshly baked bread. Burnt food is also hard and dark in colour and tastes quite different to food cooked well.
* The texture of stewed apples is quite different from that of a crisp raw one. The contrast of touch and sound is very distinct as it is cut or eaten.
* You can feel if a tomato is ripe or not by contrasting smell, taste or touch, colour and sound, as it may feel hard or squishy when cut.
* When you are cleaning the shower, the way the cloth slips over the clean surface compared to how it grips onto the not so clean surface is a contrast we can all use. The same is true when cleaning windows or any polished surfaces. The simple use of contrasts, e. g. touch, smell, etc. gives us all the information we need.
* Contrast can also be used outdoors in the garden. Plantings using various textures of leaves, size and shape of trees or shrubs or differently scented plants in strategic positions may assist with orientation in the garden. The contrast feel of grass or concrete underfoot can also be helpful.
In the next issue Heather Arthur continues to suggest ways of making the best use of contrast, using our five senses. Sight is just one of them that we can use.
HELP FOR MATURE DRIVERS From TSB Direct February 2002 newsletter
Changes in coordination and flexibility, and driving with disabilities such as hearing or eyesight problems are just some of the issues facing drivers as they age.
These concerns have been addressed in "The positive guide for mature road users", a new Land Transport Safety Authority publication. The guide provides straightforward advice on driving topics ranging from recent changes to the road rules to the new driver licensing system.
An essential element of the guide is a section that helps older drivers reflect on their own driving behaviour. It helps them make sound decisions about their own driving future - some older drivers may even find the tips provided encourage them to keep driving when they may otherwise have stopped.
If you know someone who might benefit from this publication, you can obtain a copy for them from any Automobile Association office, vehicle testing station, or direct from the LTSA, toll-free on 0800 699 000.
TELEPHONE SERVICE FOR DEAF GETS GREEN LIGHT 3 May, 2002
A telephone relay service will be set up for people who are deaf or who have speech or hearing impairments. The Government aims to have the service running by the end of the year, with annual costs - excluding teletypewriter equipment - expected to be about $2 million initially.
Service users will be able to talk using a teletypewriter to type text. An intermediary converts that text into conversation for the person at the other end, and vice versa.
The Human Rights Commission last month called for the Government to require the telecommunications industry to provide the service. The commission said failure to provide such a service was discrimination under the Human Rights Act.
Victoria Manning, of Wellington, an original complainant in the telephone services case, today described the announcement as "unbelievably good news". "We've been fighting for access to the telephone for seven years and this news is still sinking in. I can't believe it's over," she said. "A relay service will have a huge and positive impact on the disabled community in New Zealand. It will increase our independence and reduce our isolation from mainstream society. We will have more employment and business opportunities. "
Disabilities Issues Minister Ruth Dyson said today that the provision of the relay service would bring New Zealand into line with many other developed countries. It will be established as a telecommunications service obligation under the Telecommunications Act 2001.
Communications Minister Paul Swain said the relay service was chosen because it was the only service that could provide an instant response using widely available telephone communication. "Even if the telecommunications companies pass on the full cost to consumers - by no means a certainty - the cost is likely to be around three cents per household a week," he said.
RETINA MEMBER MAKES NEWS ON NATIONAL TELEVISION
Bill Norris, 99 years young, was featured on the TV news on the 30th April. Bill, a member of Retina's Otago/Southland Branch has Age-related Macular Degeneration. He is Retina's oldest member at aged 99. Bill quietly gets on with making the most of life in spite of his advanced years. He belongs to five different indoor bowls clubs and on the TV was featured winning in the over 90's section of the Senior Citizens indoor bowls tournament.
Bowls are not the only hobby that Bill pursues these days. He is also a member of Dunedin's "Thursday Singers", a group of RNZFB members and volunteers conducted by Sister Stephanie, a retired Catholic nun, with the help of long serving piano accompanist Audrey Carman, who has volunteered for this position since the choir's inception about 16 years ago.
The Thursday Singers range in age from sixty plus to 99. As well as Bill Norris, the group includes Retina members Addie Barnes, Mollie Donovan, Evelyn Ogilvie, June Ombler and Jean Sparks. The group enjoys entertaining those who live in retirement villages and rest homes, social clubs or church groups with a mixture of songs popular from the 1930's onwards. These include musical comedy, folk and World War II songs and occasionally some light opera that reminds their audiences of their younger days. These are interspersed with poetry written and read by RNZFB volunteer Jean Sparks. Sister Mary-Ann, a former pianoforte teacher who also sings with the choir, adds her talents by playing a bracket of music.
Bill Norris, who now lives with his daughter Mary, says that he likes to sing and enjoys being in the choir.
Mrs Celia Whitworth
Katikati,br> Bay of Plenty
22nd February 2002
Dear Mrs Ombler
I understand that you are the Editor of the Retina newsletter. As I have Macular Degeneration I would be most grateful if you could put me on your mailing list for the newsletter and any back numbers you may have.
Please let me know any costs involved or if you work by subscriptions or donations. I don't have a computer but a friend of mine tracked you down on your website.
EDITOR: I believe that you have now joined us as a member. Welcome!
27 March 2002
I greatly enjoy the newsletter with all the hope inspiring research and comments. To read the articles on my CCTV is rather difficult, as the print spreads the width of the paper - maybe somebody else would concur with me.
Watching a German TV program, it showed an operation on a macula after draining the eye of the fluid. Another program referred to a new type of lens used in cataract operations with a flexible lens, from the University of Ehrlingen. "Human Optics" are promoting this development. A seminar will be held later in April for five days in Sydney. I keep a close eye on it myself (pardon the pun) as apart from AMD I have a cataract.
To find out more about it go to www.humanoptics.de. I hope this information may be of interest to other members.
EDITOR: Thank you for sending this information. Perhaps our two delegates will hear more about this when they go to the Retina International Conference in Japan in July. I understand your difficulty in reading as I have the same problem myself. When you fill in your Membership Renewal form enclosed with this newsletter, perhaps you would like to indicate that you want to receive it on tape. It is very well read by the RNZFB taping service.
MEMBER SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE NOW DUE
Your membership subscription became due on 1st April, 2002 for the year 1 April 2002 to 31 March, 2003. With this newsletter you will find a Member Renewal Form which we ask you to complete and return to the :
Retina NZ Inc,
P.O. Box 27-177,
as soon as possible, enclosing your subscription.
Please note that we have added a new line to be ticked on the reverse side of this form. It is a tick box for "I have Diabetic Retinopathy (DR)". So if you have this condition as well as any of the other conditions listed, please tick this so that we can improve the data information about our members.
Please also note that any donations of $5 or more to the Society (which all go into our Research Account) are now tax deductible.
STOP PRESS !!!
RESEARCHERS PRESENT HOPEFUL FINDINGS AT ARVO
From U. S. Foundation Fighting Blindness, 9 May, 2002
Dr Alan Chow of Optobionics, a biotechnology company based in Chicago, presented preliminary findings indicating that six patients who are blind from retinitis pigmentosa and Usher syndrome experienced visual responses from a microelectronic prosthetic device implanted in the eye. These unpublished findings - from a phase one clinical trial testing the safety of the company's Artificial Silicone Implant (ASR) - were presented for the first time at the annual meeting of the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Retinal prosthetic devices might one day restore ambulatory vision to patients who are blind from retinal degenerative diseases, allowing them to regain their mobility and independence. In the Optobionics study, six blind or severely visually-impaired patients reported being able to perceive a brightened visual field in the area of the retina where the device was implanted. Some patients also reported being able to perceive crude forms and movement.
Dr Gerald Chader, Chief Scientific Officer of The Foundation, attended the ARVO presentation and stated, "It is very encouraging that patients in the safety study have not experienced complications. It is even more exciting to hear subjective reports from the patients that they could perceive light and forms. However, until the complete study findings are published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, it is difficult for the scientific community to comment. "
The Optobionics device, called an Artificial Silicon Implant (ASR), was first implanted in three patients in June of 2000. Three more patients received the device in July of 2001. The ASR is 2 millimetres in diameter and one thousand of an inch in thickness, making it thinner than a human hair. It contains 3500 solar cells that are designed to convert light into electrical signals. The device is designed to function in place of diseased photoreceptor cells, transmitting light to the remaining nerve cell network in the retina.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is exciting news indeed for all RP's and those with Usher syndrome. It strengthens the research article printed earlier in this newsletter entitled "foundation researchers launch retinal implant study", as both teams of researchers have had promising results with retinal implants. It must be remembered, however, that both these studies are Phase 1 trials and it will take at least another 5 years until these retinal implants are available to everyone who needs them, even if further trials all prove successful.
DO YOU NEED HELP OR ADVICE?
The Retina NZ Peer Support Scheme is a free and confidential service, operating nationwide. To make contact, telephone 0800 243 33 33, press 1 for General enquiries and then ask the call centre operator to put you in touch with a Peer Supporter in your area.
Ring any of the following freephone numbers if you want to speak to a geneticist or genetic counsellor about your own particular diagnosis of RP, Macular Degeneration or other retinal degenerative disorders:
Auckland Genetic Hotline 0800 476 123
Wellington Genetic Hotline 0508 364 436
Christchurch Genetic Hotline 0508 364 436
(South Island callers ask for Dr Caroline Lintott)
CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF ARTICLES FOR THE NEXT ISSUE IS FRIDAY 9 AUGUST 2002.