Looking back at 2017

Post date: 
Monday, 18 December 2017
Image of 2017 in lights

As the year comes to a close and we all get ready for a well-earned break, we looked back at some of the most popular NB Online articles enjoyed by eye health and sight loss sector professionals in 2017.


This year we celebrated 100 years of NB Online. Back in 1917, the publication was called New Beacon, and it printed all kinds of sight loss information from around the world for people affected by sight loss. To kick off the special year, we looked back at some of the main issues that have been important in the sector over the last 100 years.

January also saw the first of our ‘On this Day…’ series, where we scoured the New Beacon and NB Online archive each month to share an article from the past. It felt fitting that the first article we publish from the archive was from the first edition of New Beacon published in January 1917.

Finally, some of the key figures in the eye health and sight loss sectors commented on what they thought professionals should look out for in the year ahead.


In February, we shared advice about how you should break bad news to patients. What was clear from speaking to a number of professionals, there is no one way to tell somebody they’re losing their sight, but if patients are told in a way that’s sensitive, their experience can be less traumatic.

Also in February, Julie-Anne, a Senior Lecturer in Optometry and award-winning researcher, spoke about her work looking into how children with special needs can be affected by visual impairment.


In March, Tom Reck, Head of Business Development at Action for Blind People, spoke about RNIB's plans to expand the ECLO service by working with local charities to co-fund new positions.

Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, also wrote a part two of his tech blog, Mobility in the 21st Century. Robin discussed the latest apps and gadgets people with sight loss could get their hands on during 2017. And while on the subject of technology, it was this month that Google Chrome launched a browser extension to help make web pages more accessible

After announcing NB Online’s centenary in January, we sent out 500 copies of our commemorative magazine and Birthday Boxes to subscribers of the eNews. The special printed magazine included lots of topical articles which were later shared online. 


After seven years of working in collaboration, Action for Blind People and RNIB joined forces as one charity under the name, RNIB.  

April saw NB Online published Robin Christopherson’s review of the button-free, hands-free, eye-free gadget, the Amazon Echo. Robin’s blog was consistently one of NB Online’s most well-read webpages every month for the rest of 2017.  
To mark some of the milestones that have happened during a century of the NB Online publication, we put together a timeline of the biggest landmark events over the last 100 years from 1917 – 2017. 
We also shared a new film about Phil, a gentleman with nystagmus, talking about how he has learned to best manage his condition.  


For Dementia Awareness Week in May, Mike Bowen, Head of Research from the College of Optometrists, presented findings from new dementia and sight loss research. The data showed that almost 50 per cent of people with dementia and sight loss were no longer classified as visually impaired when they wore the correct glasses. We also shared a new Dementia and Sight Loss Guide to help professionals promote good eye health.
Also in May, NB Online looked past the headlines about medical advancements to find out about bionic eyes, a robot called 'R2D2' which can guide needles into place with movements as small as 1000th of a millimetre, and investigated the technological developments leading new advances in eye surgery.  
Finally, RNIB launched ‘Tough Talks’, a resource to help parents talk to children with vision impairment about their eye condition.

Fazilet Hadi at the Vision conference 2017

Following this year’s Vision UK 2017 conference in mid-June, Fazilet Hadi, RNIB Deputy CEO, spoke about what the UK Vision Strategy had achieved over the last 10 years and what is still left to do.

Just in time for Diabetes Week, we shared an exciting new trial which showed that revolutionary eye drops could prevent blindness for patients with diabetes.

Finally, in the run-up to the General Election, NB Online shared a feature from the Connect community, which gave the main political parties 60 seconds to explain why blind and partially sighted people should vote for them.


As part of a Deafblind Awareness Week special, we shared some ‘Tips to help you communicate with people with dual sensory loss’

Also this month, RNIB released their latest Good practice guidelines for ECLOs: Working with children and young people. And finally, we told you about the doctors who had successfully used magnets implanted in a person's eye to treat nystagmus.


The Department of Health launched the new Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI) form and accompanying explanatory notes. The revamped form aims to provide councils with better information to ensure that people who are newly diagnosed are put in contact with the most relevant local sources of help. At the same time, we spoke with Adrian Iuga, the ECLO at King’s College Hospital, to find out about a project he led on that has helped to identify depression within people with significant sight loss during their first ECLO appointment.

This summer also saw the release of RNIB’s report Demonstrating the Impact and Value of Vision Rehabilitation. The report supported the ongoing See, Plan, Provide campaign by showing how local health and social care services could avoid incurring over £3million annually by providing good quality vision rehabilitation support to people with sight loss.

Image is a screen shot from Channel 4 and RNIB's ad break

This year’s National Eye Health Week saw the release of an updated State of the Nation report.  The report was supplemented by a YouGov poll of 6,430 UK adults and found alarming new statistics, including the stat that 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK every day

To help raise awareness of eye health, Channel 4 aired a very special ad break. Channel 4 applied a number of different visual filters across the ads to enable viewers to ‘see’ through the eyes of two million people living with sight loss conditions for the first time. 

In September we also introduced you to Wyburn-Mason syndrome, a condition so rare you probably hadn’t heard of it. Dan Jeffries has the condition and spoke to NB Online about what it’s like to live with the condition.


For World Sight Day Emma Edwards, Insight Analyst at RNIB shared some of the latest statistics and information that reflects the extent of sight loss across the UK.

With the new CVI forms fresh in our minds, NB Online spoke with Head of Partnerships at RNIB, Philippa Simkiss, about a four-year project that proved digitalising the administrative process could save time and improve information accuracy.

We also shared a blog by David Allen, Chief Executive at the Faculty of Public Health who is passionate about social inclusion. David's blog asked, 'How can blind and partially sighted people break out of the ‘poverty cycle’?'

And finally, we were delighted to announce Sally Harvey had become RNIB’s new Chief Executive.


In November, NB Online spoke with Dr Gina Floyd, Design and Evaluation Officer at RNIB, who was involved in an evaluation of the charity’s ECLO service. Almost 700 patients who had received ECLO support were interviewed to find out the true impact the ECLO service had made to people's lives.

If you ever wondered what the world looks like for somebody who is colour blind, in November we used simulated photos to show you what different types of colour vision deficiency ‘looks’ like.

After hearing about a potential link between the blue light emitted from devices like smartphones and age-related macular degeneration, NB Online found out whether people should be protecting their eyes when we use digital screens. 

Vision Pioneer Award winners

We finished the year off in style with RNIB’s second professionals' award ceremony in central London. The RNIB Vision Pioneer Awards celebrates good practice within the sight loss and eye health sectors and with seven award categories, the quality of nominations led to some fantastic national finalists. Our judges and guests on the day were thoroughly amazed by some of the achievements of professionals committed to supporting blind and partially sighted people. 

With Christmas just around the corner, NB Online spoke with Mohammed Atif, Technology for Life Adviser at RNIB about the new iPhone X and whether its features are a help or hindrance to users with sight loss.

And finally, we were excited to announce the launch of Microsoft’s app, Seeing AI. Designed for blind and partially sighted people, it uses a person's smartphone camera and artificial intelligence technology to describe nearby people, text and objects.

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