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American Academy of Ophthalmology Joint Meeting Marked by Academy Firsts and Strong Turnout

10/21/2010   02:03:58 PM

More than 23,000 attend meeting in Chicago from October 16 to October 19; science program highlights and press briefings available online for media.

CHICAGO - Academy firsts and strong turnout marked the largest and most comprehensive ophthalmic educational meeting in the world. The American Academy of Ophthalmology's (Academy) 2010 Joint Meeting in conjunction with the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO), held in Chicago October 16 to October 19, was the Academy's first Joint Meeting with MEACO and it was the first time that an Oculofacial Plastic Surgery Subspecialty Day was held at the meeting.

Preliminary figures for attendance at the meeting were more than 23,000. Among the offerings featured at the meeting were more than 500 instruction courses, 93 skills transfer courses, 165 breakfast with the experts roundtables, 43 free symposia and Spotlight Sessions and more than 2000 scientific presentations. Preliminary figures for attendance at the Subspecialty Day events October 15 and 16 were strong, totaling more than 8,000.

 "The meeting provides a tremendous opportunity for members from all over the world to gather and learn about the latest advances in ophthalmology," said David W. Parke, II, MD, CEO of the Academy. "The turnout was exceptional and the energy generated from the sessions was outstanding."

The opening session for this year's meeting, which took place on October 17, was addressed by Abdulaziz I. Alrajhi, MD, President of MEACO. Douglas A. Jabs, MD, MBA, a leading expert in inflammatory eye disease delivered the prestigious Jackson Memorial Lecture. In his talk titled, "Cytomegalovirus Retinitis and AIDS: Bench to Bedside," Dr. Jabs discussed the complex interaction between CMV retinitis and HIV, in which CMV affects the course of HIV infection, and how HIV treatment affected the course of CMV retinitis. "The two in a culture will produce more virus than either one alone," Dr. Jabs said. That knowledge led to the prediction that CMV infection would accelerate AIDS and death.  The discovery of the synergy between CMV and HIV led to the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) that has saved people from blindness and early death.

The opening session also included the presentation of the 2010 Laureate Recognition Award, the Academy's highest honor, to Bradley R. Straatsma, MD., acclaimed as a pioneer in the study of peripheral retinal disease, investigations of tumors and research on ophthalmic conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and cataract.

Scientific Program Highlights
The scientific sessions provided a chance to hear directly from ophthalmic researchers on a wide range of leading-edge investigations. Presentations of particular note included:

Genetic Medicine and Individualized AMD Treatment. The Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine studied whether specific genetic AMD risk factors and/or smoking influenced patients' responses to anti-VEGF treatment. Read more about this study.

Genetic Screening Could Improve Glaucoma Care. Janey L Wiggs, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, said genetic testing is currently able to indicate the presence of or risk for several types of glaucoma; heredity plays a significant role in the disease. Read more about this study.

The Blood Pressure-Glaucoma Connection in People with Migraine. Yury S Astakhov, MD, PhD, of Pavlov Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, studied how day- and night-time blood pressure levels may be related to the development of glaucoma in people with migraine. Read more about this.

Proven Arthritis Drug Shows Promise versus Dry AMD. A research group led by Jason S. Slakter, MD, New York University School of Medicine, reports on a phase-two clinical trial of fenretinide, a synthetic derivative of vitamin A. Risk of developing wet AMD decreased almost two-fold in dry AMD patients who took the medication. Read more about this.

Clues to Retinopathy from Survivors of 50+ Years of Diabetes. Doctors assume that the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he or she is to develop serious eye disease and, if untreated, become blind; but a new study of patients who have had type 1 diabetes for at least 50 years tells a different story. Jennifer Sun, MD, of Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center, a Harvard School of Medicine affiliate found that many of these patients appear to be protected against proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), and the majority of them escape vision loss despite extremely long-duration diabetes. Read more about this.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 29,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit the Academy's Web site at
www.aao.org.

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