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US and UK veterans’ charities to host research seminar bringing world-renowned experts together to tackle sight loss

Media Invite – Photo and Interview opportunity
When:  Wednesday 23 May – 12:30
Where: University of Manchester, Theatre A, University Place, M13 9PL

A research seminar bringing world-renowned experts together to discuss sight loss will be taking place in Manchester this week (23/05). The “Sight loss as a consequence of traumatic brain injury and mental health implications” seminar is the second in a series looking at various research and innovation ideas in relation to blind veterans.

The seminar is part of an exchange programme called Project Gemini where members of the US organisation the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) will be visiting Britain to join Blind Veterans UK this week.

Now in its eighth year, Project Gemini enables Blind Veterans UK and the BVA to share experiences and knowledge about matters such as blind rehabilitation and readjustment training, vision research and adaptive technology for the blind.

The seminar, which will be held at the University of Manchester, will discuss veterans’ rehabilitation, eye trauma, Traumatic Brain Injuries vision conditions, and vision trauma research as a special Project Gemini initiative. Guest speakers will include Colonel Robert A. Mazzoli MC, (Ret. Army), Director of Education, Training, Simulation at the DoD-V.A. Vision Centre of Excellence Washington DC.

Dr. Renata Gomes, Head of Research and Innovation at Blind Veterans UK, says: “This seminar will bring together world experts on a variety of issues affecting our beneficiaries, to keep us informed, participate and develop research paving the way to reversing the effects of blindness.

“Blind Veterans UK has always been at the forefront of adaptive technologies, from our humble beginnings in 1915, we have endeavoured to invent and adapt anything that would make our beneficiaries lives better. Our care ranged from innovative ophthalmic provisions to ensuring beneficiaries could have fun and play games.

“This seminar is focusing on the effects of traumatic brain injuries and their links to sight loss. 70% of those suffering from blast injuries sustained through service in the armed forces complain of vision conditions which may lead to blindness. Blind Veterans UK wants to be at the forefront supporting research to avoid this.”

Major Tom Zampieri (Ret.), of the BVA and a legally blind veteran himself, will be speaking at the seminar. He says: “This week, and particularly the seminar, is so important because, by bringing together experts and blinded veterans from different countries, we can learn lessons from each other’s healthcare systems and veterans’ services and influence changes that best support blind veterans in each nation.

“The goal is the achievement of better care for blinded veterans and their families, ensuring that they receive the highest quality of care and support they so richly deserve.”

President of Blind Veterans UK Colin Williamson, says: “Blind Veterans UK is very proud to be welcoming comrades from the US to the UK.

“Continued research into the prevention, treatment and after-care of combat-related eye and brain injuries that result in sight loss is vital and, through Project Gemini, we would like to encourage research and innovation into these specific areas.”

BVA traces its earliest beginnings to March 28, 1945 when a group of war-blinded servicemen met at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital near Avon, Connecticut.

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning the Second World War to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.

ENDS

For all media enquiries please contact: Mark Wheeler, PR Manager, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4HD, E: mark.wheeler@blindveterans.org.uk, T: 020 7616 7980

Notes to Editors

Follow this link to the full programme.

Blind Veterans UK

Blind Veterans UK is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. Founded in 1915, the charity provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.

Find out more at: blindveterans.org.uk, follow us on Facebook at: facebook.com/blindveteransuk and on Twitter at: twitter.com/blindveterans.

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