Going Blind—Film and Discussion, June 7, 2011

News Brief
The panel of speakers from the Going Blind film event: (left to right) James T. Deremeik, Cheri Wiggs, Joseph Lovett, and Suleiman Alibhai.

Information about low vision resources

On June 7, the National Eye Institute (NEI) hosted the showing of Going Blind, a documentary that seeks to raise public awareness about vision loss and low vision issues that profoundly affect the lives of an increasing number of people. The NEI provided support for the film through its Healthy Vision Community Awards Program. The film profiles people who have lost sight through blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, infection and injury. To learn more about Going Blind, including how to obtain the film, visit http://www.goingblindmovie.com/.

Following the film a panel of speakers presented on topics including vision rehabilitation research, adaptive devices, and low vision services and responded to questions from the audience. Neyal Ammary- Risch, M.P.H., MCHES, National Eye Health Education Program director, served as the panel moderator.

About the Speakers

Cheri Wiggs, Ph.D.
Dr. Wiggs is the NEI’s Program Director for the Perception and Psychophysics portfolio and the Low Vision and Blindness Rehabilitation portfolio. She currently serves on the trans-NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee and is an expert in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience, visual memory systems and use of neuroimaging methodologies. Dr. Wiggs shared highlights from the NEI’s research in low vision and rehabilitation.

Suleiman Alibhai, O.D.
Dr. Alibhai spent 12 years at a large retina practice in Washington, D.C. seeing patients exclusively for low vision rehabilitation. He went on to develop a Low Vision Center as part of the INOVA health system in Northern Virginia, where he served as the Director of Low Vision Services. For the past 9 years, he has contracted with the NEI to provide low vision consultations to patients participating in different protocols. He recently formed an independent low vision company and sees patients with low vision in Bethesda, MD and Alexandria, VA. Dr. Alibhai discussed state-of-the-art optical and adaptive devices available for people with low vision.

James T. Deremeik, M.A.
Mr. Deremeik is a Certified Low Vision therapist and the Educational/Rehabilitation Program Manager and faculty member of the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute. Mr. Deremeik has more than 30 years of experience and specializes in rehabilitation teaching of the blind and visual impaired. He is an active member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Low Vision section where he has served in a leadership role the past 12 years. Mr. Deremeik discussed access to low vision services and address the psychosocial aspects of low vision.

Joseph Lovett
Joe Lovett is the Producer/Director of Going Blind. Mr. Lovett is no stranger to the NIH campus. As a producer/director for ABC News “20/20” in the early 80s, he worked with Dr. Anthony Fauci to produce the earliest investigational television reporting on AIDS for network television. Later, after founding Lovett Productions, he spent many weeks on the NIH campus during his production of Cancer: Evolution to Revolution for HBO. Mr. Lovett has lectured on “Medicine and the Media” at the Department of Preventive Medicine at SUNY Brooklyn. He is presently a lecturer at SUNY Downstate’s School of Public Health. Mr. Lovett talked about the making of the film and his own vision loss due to glaucoma.