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November 2000, Number 7
An address from Anthony Haas, president:
The Retina Society of New Zealand.
Retina New Zealand members have the chance to help eye doctors help current members and others with retinal dystrophies. The chance to help is enhanced by working together in the build up to World Retina Day on the last Saturday in September and as we digest the good news out of Retina International’s Toronto conference. We are strengthened by the positive attitude of leaders amongst eye doctors, the talent in our four New Zealand branches and Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.
Our World Retina Day strategy is to lead eye doctors to Retina New Zealand’s website so that they and their receptionist are encouraged to print off information for patients. The sections on each retinal condition, drawn largely from the US Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the information we can keep adding, can be easily found on the ophthalmologist’s office PC and printed out so that patients do not have to leave the appointment with confusing verbal accounts of the condition. The eye doctor’s service can reasonably be expected to include a print out of Retina New Zealand website information on the condition- and over time, more support information. The patient – and their families and other advisers such as our own growing team of peer supporters can go back to the website and extend knowledge we facilitate, for themselves. Information on the website and in our printed resources, and resources to which we link, can incorporate more on prevention and coping.
People can be reminded that regular visits to an eye professional are sensible precautions for spotting problems ahead, that smoking might encourage macular degeneration, that sumsmart anti glare glasses might increase comfort and reduce risk.
Please join the World Retina Day programme by encouraging eye doctors, and consumers, to use and develop our website and the information traceable through it.
Tell people the site and our print resources are being developed to help professionals, consumers, families and carers to better inform those with retinal dystrophies about how to cope and what to hope for as scientists and their allies make the fruits of breakthroughs publicly accessible. Inform people that we are pooling and linking to information and better communication channels so that we can build a more helpful community around Retina New Zealand.
Tell people this year’s New Zealand delegation to Retina International’s conference feels hopeful about the potential from the gene, stem cell, pharmaceutical, therapeutic and other research. People with retinal dystrophies might want to be in trials of one or more of the discoveries that could help people in this or the next generation.
Eye doctors, opticians, RNZFB staff and health decision makers should be given access to the scientific information online, that gives us hope so they can help people like us when drawing on their services.
The website will be developed to enable us to invite professionals such as ophthalmologists, optometrists, scientific and medical advisers to contribute informed opinion to current discussions. We will give them the chance to be identified as sharing their knowledge on recent advances. Eye professionals and consumers and their services are being invited to use the same communication channels and community of interest. Tell your local media what is happening.
You, Retina New Zealand branch members, are being invited to help carry our invitation to your local professionals – directly and through the media that influence them. Following the successful distribution of the Retina New Zealand brochure we will email the professionals – helped by email addresses branch secretaries should assemble. We will email them now and again about our web community and outline of the website and other resource content, and our links to other information sources that helps people like us hope and cope.
The development of the Retina New Zealand website and allied public education resources helps us provide better member services.