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First VisionACTion meeting!

By its nature research can often be a lonely and isolating job. Researchers traditionally spend long days and nights exploring ideas that maybe only a handful of people in the world fully appreciate and often performing experiments alone. It is therefore unsurprising that a UK study in 2019 revealed that ~50% of researchers (46% of academics and 60% of early career researchers) had feelings of loneliness and self-isolation in the workplace. One of the great things about research, that breaks us out of this isolation, is conferences and meetings that provide the opportunity to meet other researches who understand your challenges and specific niche area of research in a much deeper way.

This is where COVID stepped in, making last few years incredibly difficult to get together and discuss research in person. This lost connection has impacted the research community as a whole, with limited, if any, opportunities to meet our colleagues in person and foster ideas. However, on the 7th of June, 2022 members of the VisionACTion group were finally able to get together. VisionACTion are a group of dedicated vision scientists, educators, and clinicians from across the ACT region looking to develop better outcomes for patients with visual disorders today, while developing technologies, treatments and diagnostics for the future.

The concept of the VisionACTion group was conceived in 2020, just prior to the start of the pandemic, with plans for several events in 2020 (20/20 vision seemed like too good of a pun to pass up on). Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, plans were placed on hold. So it was an absolute treat to have many of the wonderful vision scientists across the ACT region come together to share their research under the VisionACTion banner in June this year. For many, including myself, this was the first public research event attended since the start of the pandemic.

A handful of presentations provided a fascinating glimpse into the plethora of Vision Science work being performed in the ACT. The presenters included; Professor Ted Maddess (ANU) on modern visual field testing for eye and brain diseases, Associate Professor Regan Ashby (UC) on a project to help reduce the severity of myopia, Associate Professor Mei Boon and Faran Sabeti (UC) on optometry research and myself presenting on gene silencing and use of RNA in ophthalmology. These presentations were followed by a tour of the amazing clinical teaching facilities at UC.

Thank you to everyone that attended the event, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. It was so great to meet some of the wonderful early career researchers many of whom I have emailed and zoomed with over the last 2 years, but finally had the opportunity to meet, without the need of a screen (zoom is amazing, but nothing beats face-to-face). It was also great to see many of the members from community organisations and key supporters from the public, many of whom we had not seen since before the pandemic. We hope this is the start of what will be a growing number of events planned for the future with the VisionACTion Group. Watch this space...

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