January Newsletter 300

Thousands at risk of blindness set to benefit from a new drug that slows vision loss and can even improve sight

The medicine, brolucizumab, has now been approved by NHS chiefs for patients with wet age-related macular deterioration – a painless yet incurable eye disease that’s the leading cause of blindness in over-55s.

Previously, sufferers needed monthly injections, carried out in hospital, to slow the condition’s progress. But the new jab needs to be given only every 12 weeks, while some patients may be able to go even longer between appointments.

During a trial, a third of patients given brolucizumab experienced significant vision gains within just four weeks of their initial jab, compared with six months when given the older drugs. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-9106401/Thousands-risk-blindness-set-benefit-new-eye-drug.html

Pregnancy test for women with sight-loss

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has now commissioned a pioneering prototype to help women who are blind or partially sighted.


New eye test that uses artificial intelligence can predict macular degeneration 3 years before symptoms start

A new eye test that uses artificial intelligence AI to study retina scans can predict age-related macular degeneration (AMD) three years before symptoms start.


Thousands of Britons are risking blindness because they do not use their eye drops properly

Failure to use eye drops correctly is putting hundreds of thousands of Britons at risk of blindness, experts have warned. The concern follows recent reports that only half of the 480,000 sufferers of glaucoma – the most common eye condition in the UK – are given clear instructions for using their medication.

It is essential to apply pressure to the inner corner of the eye, or the tear duct, when squirting in the liquid to stop the medication draining out, rendering it ineffective.


First news and entertainment hub for visually impaired people launches on smart speakers

The new RealSAM Smart Speaker solution is a dedicated hub for blind and visually impaired people, offering subscribers access to thousands of books, newspapers, podcasts, radio stations and information from a range of UK sight loss charities.

The RealSAM Smart Speaker is a fully voice-controlled media player tool that, once subscribed to, is available to use on an existing Google Home or Alexa product.

Utilising the latest in AI technology, the RealSAM Smart Speaker is designed to improve the independence of those with vision impairments and sight loss. Hosting content from UK sight loss charities such as Henshaws, Galloways and Torch Trust, the platform is the world’s first smart speaker information hub for people with sight loss.


A form of hereditary blindness can be cured in both eyes using modified DNA

A form of blindness that affects both eyes can be cured by injecting modified DNA into one of the eyes.

A total of 37 people suffering with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) were successfully cured with an experimental treatment.

The jab is called a known as a viral gene therapy vector and contains DNA formally called rAAV2/2-ND4 which is designed to fix the genetic issue causing sight loss.

LHON is a hereditary disease that affects around one in 40,000 people, usually in their 20s and 30s, causing blindness.


How is artificial intelligence transforming the lives of people with disabilities?

Examples of practical ways artificial intelligence is being used to help people with sight-difficulties are listed here:


Micro-Speak Plus: Micro-Speak Plus

Micro-Speak Plus is a new digital voice recorder that combines smart design with ease of use and high quality performance. With large tactile buttons and audio prompts to support low vision users.

Micro-Speak Plus is a digital voice recorder that combines smart design with ease of use and high-quality performance. Micro-Speak Plus is packed with useful features including specifically designed software that provides spoken prompts and beeps to assist blind and low-vision users.

Record instantly with the press of a button and playback immediately via the built-in speaker. High Definition recordings in uncompressed WAV format ensure impressive results for unlimited speaking and listening activities.

Model No: MIC-8GB-APY

Micro-Speak Plus 8GB Yellow

Product code: LC250

£47.94 (inc VAT) £39.95 (ex VAT).  The ex VAT price will apply to blind or partially sighted people, or someone buying on their behalf.

Available from RNIB.