Visually-Impaired Community to Gather at Foundation Fighting Blindness National VISIONS 2013 Conference to Hear Research Updates and Improve Coping Skills

  • Keynotes from Best-Selling Blind Author Michael Hingson and International Speaker Craig MacFarlane
  • Hotel Staff To Receive Interactive Blindness Sensitivity Training Prior to Event
  • Session Covering the Newly FDA-Approved Argus II Retinal Prosthesis for People Blind from Advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa

Baltimore, MD  (March 11, 2013) – Hundreds of people with vision impairment due to retinal degenerative diseases will converge at the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ national conference, VISIONS 2013, on June 27-30 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. Attendees affected with blinding conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and Usher syndrome will hear from world-renowned experts about the latest advancements in retinal research, improve their skills for coping with low vision, and meet others from across the country living with similar diseases.

Keynoting on Saturday, June 28 at 9 a.m. will be New York Times best-selling author Michael Hingson, who survived the September 11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. Blind since birth, Hingson will share his inspiring story, which is also the subject of his popular book “Thunder Dog.” And, recounting his incredible journey at Friday’s Welcome Luncheon will be world-renowned speaker Craig MacFarlane, who went blind at age 2 as the result of an accident. Despite the challenges, the accomplished athlete did not let vision loss stop him from winning championships in downhill snow skiing and water skiing, and more than 100 gold medals in competition.

Scientists from the world’s leading research institutions will present at science sessions relevant to the more than 10 million Americans living with vision-robbing retinal diseases. Highlights include discussions on current and upcoming clinical trials, gene therapy, stem cell-based therapies, genetics, doctor Q&A, and a session dedicated to Second Sight’s newly FDA-approved Argus II retinal prosthesis, which has enabled users who are profoundly blind from retinal degeneration to see shapes and significantly improve mobility.  

Low vision coping sessions will offer attendees valuable insight, including presentations on guide dog and cane mobility, low vision tools and technology, recreation and sports for the blind and visually impaired, success in the workplace, and education options for a child with low vision. Vendors will also be on site to exhibit their products, services and resources for the visually impaired community. For a full conference schedule and list of speakers, visit http://www.blindness.org/visions/schedule.php. VISIONS 2013 sponsors include Genentech (Platinum) and Second Sight (Bronze).

“The VISIONS conference invigorates our community each year because attendees are hearing about research advances and clinical trials directly from the brilliant minds who are investigating these preventions, treatments and cures that could save and hopefully restore sight,” says Bill Schmidt, CEO, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “Just as valuable are the bonds formed among people from all walks of life, who are living with low or no vision, yet hopeful that continued investment in research through the Foundation Fighting Blindness will bring an end to darkness due to retinal diseases.”

To prepare for VISIONS 2013, Baltimore Marriott Waterfront staff will receive interactive low vision sensitivity and sighted guide training prior to the conference, to heighten awareness about interacting with the hundreds of visually-impaired attendees traveling from across the country.

About Foundation Fighting Blindness

The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a national non-profit organization driving the research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases that affect more than 10 million Americans. Since 1971, the Foundation has raised more than $500 million as the leading non-governmental funder of retinal research. Breakthrough Foundation-funded studies using gene therapy have restored significant vision in children and young adults who were previously blind, paving the way for additional clinical trials to treat a variety of retinal degenerative diseases. With a coveted four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the Foundation also has nearly 50 chapters that provide support, information and resources to affected individuals and their families in communities across the country.

Original Date: 
Monday, March 11, 2013