Envision Conference 2014 kicks off with presentation of two prestigious awards

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Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. and Ophthalmologist Janet Sunness, M.D. Honored for Pioneering Efforts; Keynoter Rebecca Kammer, O.D., Ph.D. Discusses International Development of Low-Vision Services

Envision announced today that Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., a San Fernando Valley, Calif.-based medical device manufacturer, and Janet Sunness, M.D., Medical Director of Richard E. Hoover Low Vision Rehabilitation Services at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Md., were named the 2014 recipients, respectively, of the Envision Oculus Award and Envision Award in Low Vision Research, two prestigious honors acknowledging substantial contributions to furthering research and facilitating collaborative efforts toward addressing low vision and the conditions that cause it. The awards were presented at the opening Plenary Session of Envision’s 2014 Conference in Minneapolis.

Janet Sunness (l.), Medical Director of Richard E. Hoover Low Vision Rehabilitation Services at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, accepts the Envision Award in Low Vision Research from Michael Epp, Director of Professional Education, and Dr. Laura Walker, Executive Director of the Envision Research Institute, during the September 18 Opening Plenary Session of the 9th Annual Envision Conference in Minneapolis. The peer-reviewed award recognizes mid-career senior investigators in low vision and vision rehabilitation research. Dr. Sunness is an ophthalmologist specializing in low vision rehabilitation, retinal disease and clinical visual function testing, and is recognized as an authority on advanced dry macular degeneration. She is also director of one of the nine clinical centers worldwide involved in a natural history study of Stargardt disease.

The Envision Oculus Award recognizes individuals or organizations whose efforts in professional collaboration, advocacy, research or education have had a significant impact on people who are blind or visually impaired. Peers in the field of low-vision rehabilitation and research, as well as advocates and other industry specialists nominate candidates for the award. Second Sight was selected based on its mission to develop, manufacture and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence. The company’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is the first and only approved long-term therapy in the United States for people with advanced retinitis pigmentosa and restores some vision to people who are completely blind as a result of the disease.

“Through more than 20 years of research, dedication and innovation, Second Sight Medical Products has achieved what was previously thought to be impossible – partial restoration of vision for people who are blind,” said Michael Monteferrante, President and CEO of Envision. “The strides made by the company on behalf of those with vision loss are a shining example of the rewards that can come with perseverance and commitment in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We applaud their ongoing efforts.”

The Envision Award in Low Vision Research is presented to a mid-career senior investigator in low-vision and vision-rehabilitation research who has six or more years post-terminal or professional degree research, in recognition of outstanding low-vision research. Each year’s honoree is selected from among nominations submitted by the Envision Conference Research Abstract Peer Review Committee. Dr. Sunness, an ophthalmologist specializing in low-vision rehabilitation, retinal disease and clinical visual function testing, is recognized as an authority on advanced dry macular degeneration. She was on the faculty of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins for 20 years, and directed a study of advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She also directs one of nine clinical centers worldwide involved in a Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) natural history study of Stargardt disease, the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration.

“Dr. Sunness’ pioneering research and commitment to patients puts her in a class of her own as a clinician-scientist,” said Monteferrante. “She has made significant contributions in the understanding of a condition for which there is no known cure, and her work has formed the basis for numerous other trials. This year’s Envision Award expresses our deep appreciation for her efforts and we hope it will inspire continued groundbreaking endeavors.”

Professionals from Around the Globe Assemble to Discuss the Latest Eyecare Advances  
Held each September, the multidisciplinary Envision Conference attracts ophthalmologists, optometrists, occupational therapists, medical researchers, students and instructors from leading low-vision optometry schools and other professionals and academics to focus on improving the quality of low-vision care through collaboration, advocacy, research and education. This year’s conference was made possible in part by Visionary Sponsor Wells Fargo and welcomes professionals from across the globe to attend and present sessions on clinical education and research. Vendors also are on-hand exhibiting the latest technology and services in vision rehabilitation, books and optometric supplies.

The opening Plenary Session featured keynote speaker Rebecca Kammer, O.D., Ph.D., Diplomate Low Vision, FAAO, who discussed international development of low vision services. The lecture described a programmatic solution to a deep cultural problem of discrimination against persons with albinism. Through the use of story and images, Dr. Kammer explained how her journey for low vision care and activism for persons with albinism has led to increased international attention on the treatment and discrimination against those with albinism in East Africa. A Diplomate of the Low Vision Section of the American Academy of Optometry, Dr. Kammer has led numerous humanitarian efforts including offering remote low-vision clinics to children with albinism in East Africa. Her research focuses on pedagogy and critical thinking in health profession students. Her presentation kicked off a three-day agenda of 59 sessions focused on advancing learning and application of low-vision rehabilitation. ACCME, ACVREP, AOA-CPC, AOTA, COPE and CRCC counting education credits are available for attendees.


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