Panel of Blinded Veterans to Address TBI and Vision Loss at Denver Conference


Three blinded U.S. military veterans affiliated with the Blinded Veterans Association’s Operation Peer Support initiative will share their stories of vision loss as a result of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) suffered in combat situations as part of a special presentation and panel discussion May 2 in Denver, Colorado.

The session is free of charge and open to the public. Scheduled for the Colorado Convention Center’s Mile High Ballroom 1CD, the discussion is a preliminary event of the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the largest eye and vision research organization in the world.

The ARVO conference is the largest international gathering of eye and vision researchers, attracting more than 11,000 attendees from approximately 75 countries. Official dates of the conference are May 3-7.

Panelists are Navy Chief Petty Officer Glenn Minney (Ret.), current Director of Government Relations at the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, severely injured in 2005 when an Iraqi mortar exploded 30 feet in front of him; Army Staff Sergeant Sean Johnson (Ret.), injured in the line of duty by a mortar blast in 2006; and Army Sergeant Shianti Lee (Ret.), injured in 2005 when the vehicle in which she was riding was hit by explosives while accompanying Special Forces on a mission in Taji, Iraq.

Following panelist participation and their stories of vision loss, a question and answer period will be open to participation by all attendees. Retired National Football League running back Terrell Davis, Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XXXII (1998), a game in which he also experienced a concussion and temporary blindness, will be in attendance and present closing comments at the end of the session.

Each of the panelists is legally blind while retaining a minimal degree of vision. All experienced Traumatic Brain Injury among their multiple injuries. BVA first became acquainted with them and their stories when inviting them to attend a BVA national convention as part of Operation Peer Support, an initiative connecting combat-blinded veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam with newly blinded veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, most often by improvised explosive devices or sniper fire.

The session will open with presenters Ann C. Mckee, MD of Boston University (Retinal Pathology in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy); Randy H. Kardon, MD, PhD of the University of Iowa (Visual Sensory Impairments and Progression Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury); Glenn C. Cockerham, MD, PhD of the Palo Alto Veterans Health Care System (Afferent Visual Function in Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury); and Lee E. Goldstein, MD, PhD of Boston University (Traumatic Brain Injury and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes, Combat Veterans, and Experimental Models of Impact and Blast Neurotrauma: Implications for Ophthalmology and Vision Research).

BVA was established in March of 1945 when a small but close-knit group of World War II blinded veterans gathered together in Avon, Connecticut. The founders hoped to help newly blinded veterans adjust to life without sight and to regain their confidence and independence. This dedication has continued for 70 years. Eligibility for assistance does not require that a veteran’s blindness be service connected. There is no charge for any BVA service. For further information, call BVA at 800-669-7079 or visit the organization’s website, www.bva.org.