The Macular Society held its annual conference in London last Saturday. It was a sell-out and, as usual, beautifully organised by the MS staff.
You may think there are not many people with macular conditions, but on the tube to Victoria a young woman sitting beside me asked if I had the condition. She, too, was going to the conference.
My very tall son guided us through the crowds at the station, much helped by guides holding up bright yellow MS placards. Hopefully this helped, as well, with public awareness. The conference was held at Park Plaza and sponsored by Vision Aid. Good venue and excellent exhibition and lunch.
After brief introductions highlighting the emphasis the Society places on research, the speakers went straight into their subjects:
- Miss Clare Bailey, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Bristol Eye Hospital – Macular Treatments and Services
- Prof. Rachel Williams, Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow, Liverpool University – Engineering, cell transplantation and treatment of MD
- Dr. Hannah Bartlett, Senior Lecturer, Aston University – Nutrition and Supplements
All of the speakers conveyed information with so much clarity and enthusiasm that they made very sophisticated research easy for us to understand. What struck me most was the extent of research and development and the importance of academic cooperation and a holistic approach.
So many new grounds are being covered in drug and stem cell treatments and the intricate
engineering involved. Who would have thought that the Gore-Tex(c) of your raincoat could be transformed into a tiny, delicate filter that will fit in the bottom of the eye?
Kale and spinach are recommended as providing important supplements in the MD diet, with kale significantly outbidding spinach! Whilst diet is important, much research is going into effective supplements, but as yet there are no definitive recommendations other than a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
The afternoon session I attended had useful information about services and aids for low vision and, again, it seemed to me that it would be helpful if there was a more joined-up link between clinical and service practice.
The MS has over 1,000 volunteers, ranging from local group leaders through speaking about the society to telephone befriending. Volunteers are always needed . Information can be found at www.macularsociety.org or by phoning the Helpline on 0300 3030 111
I came away with a head reeling with information and having enjoyed an excellent conference.