The volunteers leading the way in vision research

19 March 2018 09:30

From developing the white cane, to opening one of the UK’s first purpose-built centres for those with vision impairment, Blind Veterans UK has been a major force in global sight loss innovation and research since 1915.

The Blind Veterans UK research team

In 2016 we were delighted to establish our new Research and Innovation Department headed up by Dr Renata Gomes. Since then, we have welcomed our first ever scientific volunteers to the team from some of London’s top universities. Together they have been looking into 3 branches of research, all in a mission to improve the lives of our blind veterans.

Biomedical Student Zara, for example, has been looking into how vision impaired people’s lack of light perception can affect their sleep cycles. With humans naturally waking up as the sun rises and winding down as it sets, what happens when you no longer have a sense of that? Psychology graduate Rafaella is using her academic background to look into the link between post-traumatic stress and brain injury. By enabling us to understand these matters better, our volunteers’ research is critical in our vision to achieve victory over blindness and could improve the lives of not only our blind veterans, but also the wider veteran and vision impaired communities.

For our volunteers, it is a valuable opportunity to work with like-minded researchers, learn new skills and put their academic background into a practical setting. Chemistry graduate Syeda says:

"I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside everyone on the team! As a student I did not really understand how my skills as a scientist could be beneficial outside of the lab, but through volunteering here I have gained a better insight into how I can really apply my research skills to help others."

She adds: "I have been lucky enough to have been invited to be involved in meetings, technology weeks and scientific conferences. I hope that in the future we can see our research making a real difference to people’s lives."

With the team beavering away and innovative upcoming trials of driverless cars at our Brighton and Llandudno centres, we will be sure to keep you up to date!