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The Seattle Times Prints Story about ARVO’s Veterans Vision and TBI Session, attended by Blinded Veterans and Congressional Staff

NAEVR was pleased to assist ARVO Trustee John Clark, Ph.D. (University of Washington) in planning the first-ever Veterans Vision and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) session, held on Sunday, May 5, at the 2013 ARVO Annual meeting in Seattle. The session, which focused on research into the similarities between military blast TBI-related visual dysfunction and ocular pathology resulting from sports-related head injuries and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, was covered by The Seattle Times, which printed a story.

Elaine Peskind, M.D. (University of Washington School of Medicine), a psychiatrist, noted that when she tested the vision of blast-exposed veterans, she noticed unusual movement patterns in their eyes. Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa) added that “trauma severe enough to damage the brain would also affect the eyes, so that vision/eye movement could be used as a means to diagnose brain damage.” Lee Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D. (Boston University School of Medicine) stated that “the lens is a very sensitive indicator for neurodegenerative diseases,” while Ann McKee, M.D. (Boston University School of Medicine), who has examined the brains from deceased veterans and athletes, stated that “there are few effective treatments for TBI, so eye scans could help change that by providing a way to tell whether a treatment or therapy is leading to improvements.”

NAEVR member organization Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), which invited local members to attend the session, was represented by Robert Mower and Randy Builder. NAEVR invited Congressional offices to have district staff attend, which included Kelly Goetz from the office of Cong. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Brad Forbes from the office of Cong. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

TBI is recognized as the “signature” injury of the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upwards of 20 percent of the 2.4 million U.S. servicemen and women deployed since 2001 report experiencing a TBI, and upwards of 75 percent of all TBI patients experience short- or long-term visual disorders, including double vision, light sensitivity, inability to read print, and other cognitive impairments. Changes in ocular function may serve as sensitive biomarkers of TBI, thus highlighting the eye and a diagnostic window to the brain.

The dedicated Peer Reviewed Vision Trauma Research Program (VTRP) budget line in Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations, funded at $10 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, supports extramural vision research into these deployment-related eye injuries. The following day, May 6, NAEVR hosted its Defense-Related Vision Research Opportunities session in which past VTRP-funded researchers offered insights into responding to upcoming grant program announcements.

Session faculty and guests included (left to right):  Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D. (Bausch+Lomb), former Director of the joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence, who served as the moderator; Ann McKee, M.D. (Boston University School of Medicine); Randy Builder, Blinded Veterans Association (BVA); Elaine Peskind, M.D. (University of Washington School of Medicine); Robert Mower (BVA); Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa); Lee Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D. (Boston University School of Medicine); and ARVO Trustee John Clark, Ph.D. (University of Washington).
Session faculty and guests included (left to right): Colonel Donald Gagliano, M.D. (Bausch+Lomb), former Director of the joint DOD/VA Vision Center of Excellence, who served as the moderator; Ann McKee, M.D. (Boston University School of Medicine); Randy Builder, Blinded Veterans Association (BVA); Elaine Peskind, M.D. (University of Washington School of Medicine); Robert Mower (BVA); Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Iowa); Lee Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D. (Boston University School of Medicine); and ARVO Trustee John Clark, Ph.D. (University of Washington).