At the recent Vision Pioneer Awards, the individual finalists and teams gathered at The Grange Tower Hotel in London for an awards evening. They are all at the forefront of eye health and sight loss best practice, working alone or in hospital eye clinics around the country. They strive to constantly innovate and improve the support and treatment offered to those presenting with eye health problems, often including those who are blind or partially sighted but have been previously overlooked.

The awards have been devised by UK Vision Strategy and in collaboration with the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and NB Online (the RNIB’s online news and information site for eye health and sight loss professionals). By raising awareness of sight loss conditions and their optimum treatments, it is hoped the aims of the UK Vision Strategy will be promoted and met. We were invited to attend as guests of the RNIB.

After a drinks and canapes reception, the awards began and were hysterically hosted by Chris McCausland, a stand-up comedian who lost his sight from retinitis pigmentosa. He was an absolute hoot and regaled us with his tales and challenges of being a blind husband and father in the modern world. If you get a chance to see him perform live, then take it.

Anyway, back to the awards and their winners, there were five categories as follows;

Campaign of the Year
No Water by Irenie Ekkeshis – see below
Wayfindr by Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB) – an app to help navigate with smartphone audio
Professional of the Year (Adults)
Simon Labbett, Rehabilitation Officer (Visual Impairment) at Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council and Chair of the Rehabilitation Workers’ Professional Network
Professional of the Year (Children and Young People)
Paula Varney, Family Support Officer at Vista based at Leicester Royal Infirmary who helps families cope with a sight loss diagnosis
Team of the Year
Neuro-Ophthalmic Visual Impairment in Children clinic team at Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast Trust, supporting severely sight impaired children who previously were given very little help or information

We were so pleased to see Irenie win, as her ‘No Water’ campaign resonates with our advice that opticians can offer swimmers who wear lenses – that prescription goggles are the safest option.

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