World Congress unites ophthalmologists on knowledge quest

February 19, 2006

More than 15,000 ophthalmologists from more than 110 countries are registered to attend, and more than 4,000 scientific papers were submitted for consideration. The schedule features more than 400 sessions in addition to subspecialty days, with some 2,400 speakers from all regions of the world.

More than 15,000 ophthalmologists from more than 110 countries are registered to attend, and more than 4,000 scientific papers were submitted for consideration. The schedule features more than 400 sessions in addition to subspecialty days, with some 2,400 speakers from all regions of the world.

All five major supranational ophthalmology societies - Afro-Asian Council of Ophthalmology, Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology, European Ophthalmological Society, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, and the Middle-East African Council of Ophthalmology - have contributed speakers and material, along with 61 subspecialty organizations and international groups.

In an effort to organize the sheer volume of material, the Congress will feature - for the first time - subspecialty days to focus on glaucoma, retina, cataracts, and cornea and refractive surgery. Conveniently, the schedule can be searched by topic, so physicians who are primarily interested in a given subspecialty can plan accordingly.

For example, clicking on "glaucoma" produces a list of 26 events scheduled over the course of the 6-day event. Each of those events can be further investigated to discover a dozen or so speakers from around the globe, each with 10 or 15 minutes to speak about how that topic is managed in his or her region. In this case, topics range from practical strategies for managing glaucoma, to managing coexistent glaucoma and retinal disorders, to new diagnostic issues, controversies, implants, and more. Some of these events are part of the subspecialty days, and others are part of the regular program.

Other specialties with similar tracks include cataract, retina, refractive surgery, low vision, strabismus, oncology, oculoplastic, pediatric ophthalmology, ocular pharmacology, and tropical diseases.

The lengthy list of confirmed presenters includes doctors from many countries, including the United States, Brazil, Spain, Nigeria, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Argentina, Lebanon, Canada, Switzerland, Uruguay, Greece, and Israel. Various regional associations are hosting presentations in each specialty. For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) will host sessions such as "A Potpourri of Clinical Pearls from the AAO," "Evidence-Based Management of Vitreoretinal Disorders," and a Young Ophthalmologist program.

Cataract

The scientific program, chaired by Stephen Ryan, MD, of the United States, and Cristina Muccioli, MD, of Brazil, offers subjects that appeal to the world's developed and developing regions. Courses will be offered on subjects not often explored in American meetings, including AIDS, evidence-based ophthalmology, eye trauma and emergency, neuro-ophthalmology, blindness prevention, applying computers, and teleophthalmology, which has proven useful for treating patients in remote locations.

The biggest segment of the scientific program is devoted to cataracts. Sessions will cover mastering techniques for bimanual phaco, biometry, IOL implants, endocapsular rings, pediatric cataract, refractive lens surgery, disaster management, the question of whether refractive surgery will shift toward lenticular surgery, and bilateral simultaneous surgery.

Refractive surgery

More than 25 courses are devoted to refractive surgery, covering such topics as LASIK basics, advanced surface ablation, advances in wavefront technology for corneal and lenticular surgery, refractive IOLs, phakic IOLs, intracorneal implants, and corneal biomechanics.

The International Society of Refractive Surgery will host a segment with the AAO called "Refractive Surgery on the Edge," and the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons will tackle presbyopia.

In addition, the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) will offer symposia on Vision 2020: the Right to Sight, a program launched jointly by the IAPB and the World Health Organization. The symposia will provide an explanation of the international program's first 5 years, and what remains on its agenda. The program is working to eliminate preventable blindness by creating adequate eye-care facilities, especially in underprivileged areas; training eye-care professionals; and implementing programs to control major causes of blindness.

Carnival!

After all the seriousness of the congress, visitors are encouraged to enjoy Carnival, Brazil's major pre-Lent festival, which begins just as the meeting concludes.

The 4-day celebration marks the final days of frivolity before the beginning of Lent, a traditional time of fasting and penitence. While Carnival is celebrated throughout Brazil, the celebration is particularly festive in Rio de Janeiro, where an extravagant Samba parade, complete with wild costumes and floats, is held from 9 p.m. until sunlight the next day on Sunday and Monday.