Welcome to View Point Vancouver

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Welcome message

Welcome to View Point Vancouver! We are thrilled to be here and to connect with you.

This year marks an especially significant year for Fighting Blindness Canada — our 50th Anniversary. We are putting a ‘Spotlight on Sight’ to celebrate our impact, thanks to the support and dedication of our community of vision loss leaders. We invite you to the Spotlight on Sight website where you’ll find stories of our community and highlights from the past 50 years. We encourage you to share your stories too at

The Fighting Blindness community is first and foremost those living with vision loss, their families and loved ones. Our View Point educational series brings together physicians, vision health researchers and scientists, industry partners and others with lived experience for an opportunity to connect, share knowledge and gain information regarding the latest in vision loss research and treatments.

Today, we have an exciting program where you will hear from our keynote speaker Dr. Paul Yang, Chief of the Paul H. Casey Ophthalmic Genetics Division at the Casey Eye Institute, OHSU, who will provide an update on the landscape of gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases. You can also choose one of our expert panels to learn more about age-related macular degeneration or inherited retinal disease.

We also invite young people to join our Young Leaders program in a dedicated session tailored to building independence and advocacy skills. Our Lived Experience Panel will share their journey of living with vision loss, including coping with challenges, building resilience and the importance of connecting with others.

These community education and engagement events are possible because of our long time donors. Your support also allows us to be the largest charitable funder of vision research in Canada. The research we fund supports our goals of understanding why vision loss occurs, how it can be slowed or stopped and how sight can be restored. Over the past 50 years, thanks to our generous donors and partners, we have invested more than $45 million in research and educational programs.

Finally, I want to acknowledge View Point National Presenting Sponsor: Bayer, and our National Partners: AbbVie, Apellis, Astellas, Biogen, Janssen, Novartis and Roche, as key partners in our fight to prevent vision loss and restore sight.

I can’t wait to meet you throughout our day together and am honoured to be working alongside you to accomplish our shared goal.

Jennifer Jones
President and CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada


  • LET’S MOVE FOR SIGHT TOGETHER ON SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2024! Join Canadians nationwide in a virtual challenge for vision. Whether you walk, run, cycle, dance, or even cook, your movement supports crucial research and education. Join a team or go solo – every step counts towards brighter futures. Let’s move for sight together! Get moving at:
  • JOIN US IN CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF PUTTING SIGHT-SAVING RESEARCH IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Through groundbreaking research, innovation, and advocacy, we have invested over $45M into research that has improved the sight and lives of countless people, and fuelled progress towards a future free from blindness. Learn more at:
  • Volunteer with us! Interested in joining our dedicated community? Email us to learn more about volunteer opportunities at
  • Join FBC’s monthly giving program to restore hope in sight today. Sign up today to receive a pair of designer sunglasses donated by Marchon. Contact Josie Koumandaros, at 1.800.461.3331 ext. 262 or
  • Consider leaving a gift to FBC in your will. Contact Tooba Imran at 1.800.461.3331 ext. 237 or


Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, University of British Columbia
6163 University Boulevard
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
All programming will be held on the second floor

This View Point event is in collaboration with UBC’s Research Excellence Cluster in Vision


1:00-2:00 p.m.
Registration Opens (Jack Poole Hall)
Enjoy exhibitor demonstrations and refreshments. Seating is first come, first served.

2:00-2:15 p.m.
Welcome Remarks (Jack Poole Hall)
Jennifer Jones, President & CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada and Morgan Ineson, Senior Manager, Education, Fighting Blindness Canada

2:15-3:00 p.m.
Gene Therapy with Dr. Paul Yang (Jack Poole Hall)
Dr. Paul Yang is chief of the Paul H. Casey Ophthalmic Genetics Division and Martha and Eddie Peterson Endowed Professor at OHSU Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. He is also principal investigator on multiple industry-sponsored retinal gene therapy clinical trials for inherited retinal degenerations. In this keynote presentation, Dr. Yang will describe what gene therapy is and how it works. He will provide an update on the first gene therapy available for an eye disease and outline what other potential treatments are in clinical trials.

3:00-3:15 p.m.
Snack Break
(Jack Poole Hall)
Enjoy a selection of local baked goods and visit our exhibitors!

3:15-4:00 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions (please choose one session from the following list)

  • Ask the Expert – Inherited Retinal Disease, featuring Dr. Paul Yang & Dr. Kirk Stephenson (Jack Poole Hall)
    There are over 20 inherited retinal dystrophies including, retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease, Usher syndrome, and Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) to name a few. Being diagnosed with one of these conditions can be overwhelming, and you may have many questions about what can be done now and what treatments are being researched. Dr. Yang and Dr. Stephenson will give an overview of IRDs and answer your questions.
  • Ask the Expert – Age-Related Macular Degeneration, featuring Dr. Bryon McKay & Dr. Rosanna Martens (Polygon Homes Classroom)
    Are you or a loved one living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD)? Are you confused or overwhelmed by the information you’ve received? We will sit down with Dr. McKay and Dr. Martens to learn more about AMD, including current and upcoming treatments for wet and dry AMD. There will be opportunities to ask your questions directly to the doctors.
  • Young Leaders – Meet Carmen Papalia (Bill & Risa Levine Classroom)
    Carmen Papalia is a non-visual social practice artist with a degenerative blood disease. He uses organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, art institutions and visual culture. His work, which takes forms ranging from collaborative performance to public intervention, has been featured at prominent galleries across North America. Join Carmen and Young Leaders co-chair Ali Usman for a conversation about his career journey, art and advocacy.
    Note: This session is limited to youth aged 15 to 35.

4:00-4:15 p.m.
(Jack Poole Hall)
Enjoy a coffee or tea while visiting our exhibitors.

4:15-5:00 p.m.
Lived Experience Panel
(Jack Poole Hall)
In this engaging panel discussion, we will learn more about the emotional experience of living with vision loss, including coping with challenges, building resilience and the importance of connecting with others. This panel features community members Ruanne Lai, Doug Purdy and Ali Usman.

5:00-5:15 p.m.
Closing Remarks
(Jack Poole Hall)

5:15-6:00 p.m.
Social Hour
(Jack Poole Hall)
Network with members of the vision loss community, their families and friends and make new connections. Wine, cheese and a selection of hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Ruanne Lai

Ruanne Lai, Ph.D. is passionate about bridging science and the arts, and bringing complex, scientific information to all through creative ways that can touch the heart. She completed her doctoral degree in Cell & Developmental Biology in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia in 2019. During this time, she investigated the effect of drugs on different genetic mutations of retinitis pigmentosa in frog models. In 2021, Dr. Lai completed a Knowledge Translation Professional Certificate (KTPC™) through SickKids and the University of Toronto. She also served as a Science Communication Training Fellow and a member of the Advocacy & Outreach Committee of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

Dr. Lai received a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree double majoring in Dance and Kinesiology from York University. Previously, she was the Specialist in Research Communications, Advocacy, and Peer Support at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). She has written several research blog posts and spoken publicly at events hosted by Fighting Blindness Canada. During her spare time, Dr. Lai enjoys reading audiobooks, playing the piano, and going on walks with her guide dog, Portia.


Dr. Rosanna Martens is a retina surgeon who grew up in Chilliwack, BC. She attended the University of British Columbia for medical school and completed a residency in UBC Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She then moved to Edmonton for a two-year Vitreoretinal Medical and Surgical Fellowship at University of Alberta. She is now locuming in BC as a retina surgeon. She is interested in teaching and providing the best care for her patients. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, yoga, skiing, and spending time with her friends and family.


Dr. Bryon McKay is part of the West Coast Retina Consultants team. He completed a master’s degree in human physiology and a PhD in molecular physiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario prior to medical school at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Toronto where he was co-chief resident, as well as a one-year Medical Retina, Uveitis and Ocular Oncology fellowship at the University of British Columbia. He then completed his Vitreoretinal Surgery fellowship at UBC where he was chief fellow. He was the first Canadian graduate of the program to receive the prestigious Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada – Area of Focused Competency in Retina, and is one of the first Canadian Surgeons to hold this designation.

Dr. McKay’s clinical expertise and research interests include retinal detachment surgery, vitreoretinal surgical instrumentation, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular diseases, age-related macular degeneration, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Dr. McKay also has a keen interest in complex lens surgery, and surgical disorders of the macula.


Carmen Papalia is a non-visual social practice artist with a degenerative blood disease. He uses organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, art institutions and visual culture. His work has been featured at institutions such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, among others. Papalia holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Fine Arts with a focus in Art & Social Practice from Portland State University. In 2020, Papalia was one of 25 artists who received the Sobey Art Award. This summer, he will be taking part in a three-month artist residency in Tokyo, Japan.


Image is of Doug Purdy

Doug Purdy was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia in 1941. He holds degrees from Mt. Allison University and UBC with a MSW specializing in Community Development. Doug worked a social planner for the City of Vancouver for 18 years and was a development consultant for over a decade. Now retired, Doug lives with wet macular degeneration and glaucoma and is an advocate for early diagnosis and equitable access to treatments for all.

Dr. Kirk Stephenson

Dr. Kirk Stephenson is a retina surgeon with a special interest in inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), currently in his second year of medical and surgical retina fellowship at UBC. Originally from Vancouver, he went to medical school and did his ophthalmology residency in Ireland. He helped develop the Irish national program for IRDs (Target 5000) and remains involved with this clinical and academic partnership. He is also a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (UK) and the European Board of Ophthalmology. In July 2024, Dr. Stephenson will be relocating to Toronto to complete an IRD fellowship at SickKids.

Dr. Stephenson is committed to developing our understanding of IRD mechanisms and enabling diagnostic and therapeutic access for those in need. He currently has over 45 peer-reviewed publications and is actively involved with international IRD collaborators. He looks forward to hearing your thoughts and questions.


Ali Usman is a dedicated scientist pursuing a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics in Regina, SK. He has conducted research at prestigious institutions like CERN, Brookhaven National Lab, and Jefferson Lab, focusing on the origins of the universe and sub-atomic particles. Outside the lab, Ali enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and indulging in music and movies. He’s an avid advocate for science outreach and volunteers extensively. Facing the challenge of retinitis pigmentosa, Ali is determined to make science accessible to people with disabilities. His future goal is to work in science policy, promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the scientific world.


Dr. Paul Yang is Chief of the Paul H. Casey Ophthalmic Genetics Division and Martha and Eddie Peterson Endowed Professor at the Casey Eye Institute, OHSU, where he specializes in inherited retinal degenerations and ocular immunology. He is a physician-scientist with doctorates in medicine and neurophysiology from Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Yang completed his residency in ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center (Salt Lake City, UT), fellowship in ocular immunology and uveitis at Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution (Cambridge, MA), and fellowship in ophthalmic genetics at Casey Eye Institute (Portland, OR). Over his career, he has received multiple training awards from NIH and Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB), and he was the recipient of the 2015 ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award. He is currently a co-investigator on an NIH R01 to improve the detection and elucidate the mechanisms of melanoma-associated retinopathy, and principal investigator on an FFB TRAP1 Award to validate a new class of small molecule gene agnostic neuroprotection for inherited retinal degenerations. He is principal investigator on numerous gene therapy clinical trials for inherited retinal degenerations with expertise gene therapy associated uveitis.


The following organizations will be joining us at the exhibitor fair:


View Point is proudly supported by:

  • National Presenting Sponsor: Bayer
  • National Partners: Abbvie, Apellis, Astellas, Biogen, Janssen, Novartis & Roche

Young Leaders is proudly supported by:

  • RBC Future Launch
  • Rhythm Pharmaceuticals
  • Janssen
Logos for RBC Future Launch, Rhythm Pharmaceuticals and Janssen

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