Fighting Blindness hosts our first ever in-person V.I.P Network Coffee Morning!

Our first ever in-person V.I.P Network Coffee Morning took place on Wednesday, 7th June in the Fighting Blindness office in Dublin city centre.

The aim of this informal event was to bring together members of the Visually Impaired Person’s (V.I.P.) Network, vision loss researchers from Irish universities (including members of Retina Network Ireland), and Fighting Blindness staff members to have a chat about research over a cup of coffee!

During the morning, we had Breakout Conversation Sessions where we divided up into smaller groups. The idea was for researchers to rotate and chat with different V.I.P. network members and staff.

The image shows one V.I.P. member and two researchers discussing around a table in front of the Fighting Blindness pull up stand.
Breakout Conversation Sessions

In the breakout groups, researchers discussed topics such as the focus of their work, how a typical day in the lab looks for them, and what kind of challenges they face in their research. V.I.P. network members also talked about their personal experiences with sight loss and were able to discuss questions with researchers and staff.

The morning closed with everyone gathering together with coffee and cake to have a casual chat and network to create new connections.

The image shows all the V.I.P. Coffee morning participants in a group photo at the Fighting Blindness offices.
Group photo of the V.I.P. coffee morning participants

This event was organised with both the V.I.P network and Retina Network Ireland (RNI).

  • The Visually Impaired Person’s (V.I.P.) network is a Fighting Blindness initiative for people living with or supporting those living with sight loss who are interested in Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) and wish to take part in advocacy and research opportunities. To find out more about the V.I.P network and how to join, please click here
  • Retina Network Ireland (RNI) is an all-island network for early career researchers, clinicians, and allied healthcare professionals in the area of vision loss to provide career-building, training, and networking opportunities. To find out more about RNI and how to join, please click here

Following on from the event we received some positive comments and feedback from attendees that we are delighted to share!

Some quotes from our V.I.P. network members include:


Thank you so much for such an informative and engaging session this morning (…) It was fantastic to meet all the young researchers and to hear about their pioneering work.


Being a member gives a certain feeling on inclusiveness, of belonging to a group that suffers from a rare genetic disease but also of a group that’s working to try and find a remedy or a cure for that particular issue and indeed for many more as well. Getting information on progress and breakthroughs in research via periodic updates is also supportive in that future generations will benefit from work currently being carried out.


We also received positive feedback from some RNI researchers: 

‘’I really enjoyed meeting with the patients who are at the heart of our work. Their courage is a huge motivating factor for me so meeting and chatting in person is wonderful.’’

Click below to hear what one of our researchers John Fehilly, 2nd year Ph.D. student (UCD), had to say about the event!


Fighting Blindness plan to organise similar events in future for both members of the V.I.P Network and RNI members. We aim to give more opportunities for people to discuss research and highlight the importance of Public and Patient Involvement in research to ensure the lived experience is at the heart of research carried out.

If you would like to know more about Public and Patient Involvement, the V.I.P Network or Retina Network Ireland, you can email the Fighting Blindness Research Department at