A meeting of minds at the 36th Congress of ESCRS

July 15, 2018
Caroline Richards, editor, Ophthalmology Times Europe®

The Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS), now in its 36th year, is just around the corner, and this time, the Reed Messe in Vienna, Austria, will be hosting the event.

From the 22nd until the 26th September, a variety of symposia, poster sessions, instructional courses and workshops will showcase the latest advancements in ophthalmology, alongside a daily exhibition providing delegates with information on new technologies.

It is becoming something of an expectation that the ESCRS takes place in some of the most interesting cities in Europe, and this year is no exception, with the beautiful Vienna providing attendees with impressive sight-seeing opportunities when they venture out from the congress.

In Ophthalmology Times Europe’s exclusive preview of the ESCRS, we have asked two of our respected Editorial Advisory Board members, Professor Jorge L. Alió, chairman of ophthalmology at Vissum in Alikante, Spain, and Dr Albert Augustin, professor of ophthalmology and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Klinikum Karlsruhe, Germany, to provide their input on the sessions. Read on to find out more!

Saturday 22nd September

Clinical Research Symposia
8.30am–5.30pm
The first symposium on Saturday will be on the topic of myopia. Chairpersons Prof. Oliver Findl of Austria and Dr Rudy Nuijts from the Netherlands will host presentations that will delve into epidemiology, genetics, biological mechanisms and scleral cross-linking, among other subject areas. Dr Augustin notes the “very high quality of the moderators and speakers” in this session, which he believes will guarantee high-level science and clinical relevance.

Prof. Alió also comments on the topic: “Myopia is one of the top topics today, worldwide, due to the emergence of an immense increase in the epidemiology of this problem. Myopia should not be considered always to be a disease but rather only in exceptional cases. However, it draws the attention of society because it limits the activities of those people who cannot use spectacles (including security forces, and port and professional dedications); it has a mysterious genetic background; and it has no treatment other than the correction of the refractive error by refractive surgery. This symposium promises to be one of the most interesting as myopia affects, in Europe, over 30% of the population and in other countries like Israel and the Far East, over 50%.”

‘Measuring Near and Intermediate Quality of Vision’ will be the theme of the second morning/early afternoon symposium, which will be chaired by Dr Béatrice Cochener from France and Dr Nino Hirnschall, Austria. Topics discussed will include assessing reading patterns, and methods for quantifying various factors such as halos and accommodation, all of which are “very important for your daily clinical routine”, remarks Dr Augustin.

Prof. Alió notes that “most studies on visual outcomes have been focused on refraction and best corrected visual acuity”, explaining that quality of vision also relates to a person’s perception about their vision: “These psychological issues are still difficult to measure and are the subject of this symposium.” He believes this will be a leading topic in the future: “As a surgeon, I consider most important the adequate quality than the quantity of vision because nobody complains about quantity but we have many patients with J1 20/20 syndrome who have good vision but feel negative about their perception of visual quality.”

Dr Thomas Kohnen of Germany and Prof. David Spalton, the UK, will chair the afternoon’s ‘Blue Sky Lens Research’ symposium, featuring a variety of topics from femto lentotomy to stem cell regeneration of the lens. When considering cataracts, Prof. Alió remarks that preventative measures or even therapies could become important in the future “both to delay the appearance of this problem, avoid surgery, or, more importantly, lead to preservation of accommodation for a longer period of time”. The final series of talks will be on ‘Femtosecond Surgery’, from 3.30pm, hosted by Dr Guy Kleinmann of Israel and Dr Mario Nubile, Italy. Overall, Dr Augustin believes this symposium will touch on many interesting clinical topics.

Instructional Courses
8.30am–6.00pm
Like last year, a series of free-to-attend instructional courses will be offered throughout ESCRS, beginning on Saturday 22nd September; it is not necessary to register for these. Catering for all levels, from basic to intermediate and advanced, the courses aim to inform attendees about all manner of surgical techniques, including microsurgical suturing techniques; vitrectomy and IOL implantation; glaucoma surgery; corneal cross-linking; and phacoemulsification.

Dr Augustin highly recommends attending as many courses as possible, pointing out the importance of learning from experts in the field, improving skills and avoiding mistakes. Also emphasising the attractiveness of this “very diverse programme” is Prof. Alió, who advises choosing three or four of the courses according to the topics and directors, in order to find specialised tracks that might improve continuous medical education of each doctor on a particular topic.

Exhibition Hall
The exhibition schedule will be open from 9am to 5.50pm on Saturday.

Poster Sessions

2pm–4.30pm
A moderated poster session will be held from 2pm for one hour on Saturday, while presented poster sessions will follow.

ESCRS/EuCornea Symposium: Corneal Cross-Linking: Current Status and Future Perspectives
11am-1pm
One of the two main symposia on Saturday will focus on the biomechanics of cross-linking, techniques surrounding it, and its use with LASIK and for keratoconus. Dr Roberto Bellucci of Italy and Dr Jesper Hjortdal, Denmark, will chair, and three short discussions will be interspersed throughout. Prof. Alió comments that this symposium will update the attendee on recent advancements on the “many varieties and diverse techniques of crosslinking, some of them with a lack of adequate evidence and some with strong evidence in favour”. Echoing his thoughts, Dr Augustin states: “Cross linking is still an evolving field and techniques are rapidly changing.”

ESCRS/EuCornea Symposium: The Diabetic Eye
2pm-4pm
Dr Cochener and Prof. Sebastian Wolfe, Switzerland, will chair the second of Saturday’s main symposia, which will put the spotlight on diabetes treatments, epidemiology of diabetic eye diseases and preparing for cataract surgery, among other topics. Dr Augustin remarks that the symposium will provide the attendee with “further insight into both anterior and posterior segment alterations induced by diabetes”. Prof. Alió adds: “The diabetic eye affects a huge amount of people around the world with the complications that are related to this metabolic disease. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide and is still the subject of strong medical actions and wide research leading to its prevention and early detection. Other problems related to the diabetic condition of the patient will be reviewed.”

Refractive Surgery Didactic Course

8.30am–5.30pm

This course will address a range of subject areas, with chairpersons Dr David Epstein of Switzerland and Dr Jose Guell, Spain, taking the reigns.

Young Ophthalmologists Programme

8.30am–4pm
Providing an opportunity to ‘learn from the learners’, ophthalmologists at the beginning of their careers will demonstrate what they have learnt through video cases, so this session will be useful to fledgling physicians. The first presentation will address the issue of ‘Preparing for the first operation’, with subsequent video cases focused on biometry; incisions; capsulorhexis; hydrodissection; IOLs ‘tricks’; and phacoemulsification. Taking charge as chairpersons again this year will be Dr Oliver Findl, Italy’s Dr Simonetta Morselli and Dr Kaarina Vannas of Finland. Dr Augustin notes the “well-known course directors” in this programme. “You can expect a high didactic level and many tips and tricks for young physicians,” he adds.

Sunday 23rd September

Ridley Medal Lecture
10am–10.50am
Dr Rudy Nuijts, associate professor of ophthalmology and director of the Cornea Clinic and the Centre for Refractive Surgery at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, will give a one-off lecture on Sunday morning. The title of his presentation is ‘Facts first!’

Exhibition Hall
The exhibition schedule will be open from 9am until 5.30pm on Sunday.

Glaucoma for the Cataract Surgeon Symposium
11am-1pm
The main symposium on Sunday will be chaired by Dr Simonetta Morselli and Prof. David Spalton. Topics discussed will be: ‘Imaging aqueous outflow’; ‘Eagle eyes’; ‘Intracanalicular and suprachoroidal devices’; ‘Subconjunctival devices’; ‘New drugs and slow release devices’; and ‘Trabeculectomy revisted’. As with all other symposia throughout ESCRS, discussion opportunities will be present throughout.

Prof. Alió states: “Dealing with the glaucoma and cataract is one of the most conflictive topics that faces the practical surgeon. The different model approaches with mini glaucoma shunts (MIGS), the benefits of cataract surgery over IOP control and the implications of some topical medication in the outcome of cataract surgery will be reviewed. This symposium will be interesting for all cataract surgeons attending the meeting.”

Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Symposium
2pm–4pm

On Sunday afternoon, ‘Controversies in Cataract and Refractive Surgery’ will be the theme of an informative symposium chaired by Dr Kohnen, the JCRS European Editor, and Dr William Dupps of the USA, the US Associate Editor, both of whom Dr Augustin remarks are well-known experts in the field of corneal and refractive surgery. Three subject areas will be: ‘Intraoperative OCT for the anterior segment’, ‘Cataract and corneal transplantation’ and ‘Corneal refractive surgery’. There will be ten-minute discussion periods following each topic. Dr Augustin believes it important for all anterior segment surgeons to attend this symposium.

Young Ophthalmologists Session
4pm–6pm
Dr A Panico, Italy, and Dr Filomena Ribeiro, Portugal, will chair a one-off session entitled ‘Targeting Emmetropia in Cataract Surgery’ on Sunday afternoon, which will address issues to consider before surgery. ‘What is emmetropia?’; ‘Let’s measure the eye’ and ‘Choosing the best IOL for each patient’ will be among the presentations.

Workshop on Visual Optics
8.00am–5.45pm

In what Dr Augustin sees as an “interesting format”, this three-part programme will explore ‘Visual Behaviour’ (Part 1), ‘Visual Optics (Part 2)’ and ‘Imaging the Human Eye’ (Part 3). Part 1, moderated by Prof. Raymond Applegate of the USA and Prof. Pablo Artal from Spain, will include a break at 10.40am to allow participants to attend the ESCRS/EUCornea symposium entitled ‘Corneal Cross-Linking: Current Status and Future Perspectives’, which will take place in Hall A1, before the workshop resumes following lunch. Moderators for Part 2 are Dr Ioannis Pallikaris of Greece and Dr Marie-José Tassingnon of Belgium. Overseeing Part 3 will be Drs Damien Gatinel, France, and Dr Pallikaris. Dr Augustin adds that this workshop is important to attend and “highly recommended for all doctors who are interested in optics and physiology”.

Poster Sessions

Various times
Poster sessions will be held throughout the day, with presented posters being available from 9.30am until 11am, a moderated poster session from 2pm for one hour, and further presented poster sessions between 2.30pm and 4.30pm.

Monday 24th September

Exhibition Hall
The exhibition schedule will be open from 9am until 5.30pm on Monday.

Extending Depth of Focus
11am-1pm
Monday’s main symposium, chaired by Dr Michael Amon, Austria, and Dr T Kohen, Germany, is entitled ‘Extending Depth of Focus’; optical principles, small aperatures and corneal techniques will be among the variety of topics on offer to members of the audience. Prof. Alió comments: “Some lenses and corneal procedures have been trying to implement this type of multifocality, which implies the induction of some aberrations on purpose to increase the ability of the eye to focus. The issue is how much we gain and how much we lose in using these lenses. This symposium will deal with this issue.” 

Poster Sessions

Various times
Moderated and presented poster sessions will be held at various times throughout the day, beginning at 9am until 11am with presented sessions, a moderated posted session from 2pm until 3pm, and further presented posters straight afterwards until 4.30pm.

Tuesday 25th September

Exhibition Hall
The exhibition schedule will be open between 9am and 5pm on Tuesday.

Refractive Surgery for High Ametropia
11am–1pm
During Tuesday’s two-hour main symposium, attendees will be treated to talks on anatomical limitations, the ever-popular SMILE versus LASIK debate and intraocular surgery in short versus long eyes. The chairpersons will be Dr Alex Day, UK, and Dr Jose Guell.

Poster Sessions

Various times
Poster presentations will take place in the morning on Monday, from 9am, and there will be one moderated session at 2pm.

Presbyopia Workshop
2pm–4pm
Following lunch time on Tuesday, attendees can visit the ‘Presbyopia Workshop’, which will include a range of topics, including laser correction, corneal inlays, and the pros and cons of extended depth-of-focus lenses and multifocal IOLs. Switzerland-based Dr David Epstein and Dr I Pallikaris of Greece will be the chairpersons. Presbyopia is “always an interesting topic”, Dr Augustin says, and will help attendees stay up-to-date in the field of presbyopia correction.

Wednesday 26th September

Best of the Best Review Session
8.30am–10.30am

To round up the meeting, a selection of the most interesting videos and presentations given during the Congress will be reviewed by a panel of physicians, in the ‘Best of the Best’ session on Wednesday morning, which, like last year, will be chaired by Drs Oliver Findl and Boris Malyugin.

The Enigma of Pseudoexfoliation
11am–1pm
What is pseudoexfoliation? The answer to this question will be posed in the first talk of Wednesday’s main symposium, which will also enable attendees to discover more about the epidemiology, genetics, intraoperative complications and other elements of this enigma. Dr David Epstein and Dr Oliver Findl will chair.

“Pseudoexfoliation is still a mystery. So, this lecture is of interest for all anterior segment surgeons and glaucoma specialists as well as glaucoma surgeons,” Dr Augustin comments. Prof. Alió also describes pseudoexfoliation as still being a mystery, and one that affects many people according to ethnicity and geographical location. “Even though important investigations have been performed, the reasons that lead to this problem and its implications and prevention are still unknown. This symposium will deal with the basic knowledge about this problem and how to deal with it on practical terms,” he adds.

Video Symposia
On Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoons, surgical videos will be played, aimed at helping ophthalmologists navigate sticky situations. Saturday’s session is on ‘Challenging Cases’, Sunday’s symposium handles ‘Surgical Complications: You Make the Call’, and on Monday, the topic is ‘Getting Into Trouble’. Dr Augustin points out that video symposia are a highly recommended format to learn from peers.

Practice Management Masterclass

On Sunday and Monday, Practice Management Masterclasses will be held throughout both days, from 9am to 6pm on the Sunday and from 8am until 6pm on the Monday.

Surgical Skills Training Courses

Hands-on wetlab courses will be available to ESCRS attendees, providing them with the opportunity to practice surgical techniques on porcine eyes. The small classes utilise two-way audio and video as teaching tools.

The cost for all wetlabs for trainees is fixed at 100 Euros per course. For regular delegates the cost will vary between 100 and 150. Some of the course topics this year are: ‘Basic Phacoemulsification’, ‘Basic Surturing Techniques’, ‘Boston Keratoprosthesis’, ‘Corneal Cross-Linking Therapy’, ‘Glaucoma Canaloplasty’ and ‘Modern MIGS techniques enhancing Schlemm’s Canal’. Pre-booking online is necessary.