02 June 2017

Hull York Medical School academic joins panel at ‘Life Beyond Sight Loss’ seminar

Dr Heidi Baseler (left) speaks at the Life Beyond Sight Loss seminarHull York Medical School lecturer Dr Heidi Baseler joined a panel of world-renowned experts at the Life Beyond Sight Loss seminar in London on 24 May, the first in a series of events looking at research and innovation in relation to blind veterans.

The seminar, which discussed veterans’ rehabilitation, eye trauma, traumatic brain injuries, vision conditions and vision trauma research, was part of the Project Gemini exchange programme between the US-based Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), and the Blind Veterans UK charity.

Dr Baseler’s presentation showcased the leading Hull York Medical School research being carried out at the University of York’s Centre for Neuroscience, which focuses on understanding how our visual system adapts to sensory loss, particularly age-related macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK, Europe and North America.

‘Seeing involves both the eyes and the brain,’ Dr Baseler explained. ‘However, when the eyes are affected by disease or damage, the part of the brain that normally receives signals from the eyes may change its function, or shrink. A number of exciting new treatments are being developed to restore signals from the eyes, but our research focuses on whether the brain will be ready to receive and interpret these signals.

‘The seminar was a fantastic opportunity to obtain feedback from the blind veterans, their supporters, doctors and advocates, and let them know what we do.’

Other guest speakers included the Surgeon General of the British Defense Medical Services, Vice Admiral Alasdair Walker, and Major Tom Zampieri (Ret.), of the BVA, who is himself a legally blind veteran. Major Zampieri said, ‘This seminar is 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.'