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YO Symposia Preview: Can’t-Miss Sessions Cover Refractive Surgery to Volunteering
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During this November’s Joint Meeting in Chicago with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO), the Academy convenes the most exciting annual gathering of eye surgeons anywhere in the world. This year the program includes more than 40 symposia developed by more than 30 subspecialty societies and groups like the YO Committee. Although symposia are free, the one- to two-hour events offer CME. They’re also meant to both educate and intrigue audiences, incorporating cases, visuals and discussion into their sessions.

The YO Committee is cosponsoring four of the symposia at this year’s meeting, which cover topics ranging from refractive surgery to overseas opportunities to a brief history of ophthalmology.

“Not knowing who or what came before the present is like opening a new book to the last chapter and hoping to understand the theme,” says David Parke, MD, a member of the Academy’s Senior Ophthalmologist (SO) Committee. “It has always been the duty of elders of any tribe to assure the continuity of cultural memory and provide some reality to the illusory present. Likewise, it is the privilege of the young to reveal how recent change has improved on the past.”

In a new symposium this year, YOs and SOs will discuss just that — the relationship between past innovations and recent changes. Anthony Khawaja, MBBS, an ophthalmology resident at Gonville and Caius College in the United Kingdom and member of the YO International Subcommittee, said treatments and techniques that only recently beckoned from the frontier of ophthalmic research are now approaching the center of practice. Though artificial corneas, advanced retinal imaging, limbal stem-cell techniques and gene therapy for retinal diseases may sound like familiar pieces of ophthalmic practice today, Dr. Khawaja suggested they might have been investigational years earlier — perhaps cutting-edge topics at a previous Academy Annual Meeting.

Changing technology is the focus of just one of several exciting symposia the committee has collaborated on, however.

“Introduction to Refractive Surgery for Residents” (SYM53) will run from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the first day of the Joint Meeting proper — Sunday, Nov. 11. Sponsored by the International Society of Refractive Surgery, this symposium highlights a field for which thousands of eye surgeons of all ages have historically shown a robust interest: the tech-savvy, well-compensated, fast-paced world of refractive surgery.

“Modern Technologies and Techniques for Young Ophthalmologists to Know” (SYM12) will run on Sunday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at McCormick Place, room S101AB. This particular symposium is jointly sponsored with the European Society of Ophthalmology and APAO, and covers topics such as translating stem cell therapy into clinical practice, the role of the lamina cribosa in glaucoma and new technologies in visual field assessment, among others.

“Opportunities for Young Ophthalmologists Symposium” (SYM18) will run on Sunday from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at McCormick Place, room S101AB. As the title suggests, this symposium will discuss international groups through which YOs can volunteer, as well as provide perspective on the rewards and challenges of international volunteering as an ophthalmologist and as a YO.

The Academy boasts an especially robust history of international volunteers among its members, including surgeons who also manage to maintain busy practices at home. Brad Feldman, MD, an ophthalmologist in private practice in Philadelphia who is director of the Wills Eye Global Ophthalmology Program and chair of the Academy’s YO international subcommittee, says that attending this course is a must for all YOs eager to work in global health: “This symposium has been wildly popular — standing room only in past years — and is a testament both to YOs’ interest in volunteering and the quality of experts chosen as speakers,” he said.

Natasha Herz, MD, chair of the YO Info editorial board and an ophthalmologist in private practice at the Kensington Eye Center in Rockville, Md., was also enthusiastic about the presentation: “The symposium on international opportunities sounds awesome,” she said. “They'll be mapping out how to get involved in mission work for YOs who are interested. And knowing who to contact seems to be half the battle. I think this will be well attended, as there seems to be a lot of interest among YOs in going overseas. It will also be interesting to meet some of our international colleagues and discuss their protocols for treating universal problems.”

“Then and Now” (SYM32) will run on Monday, Nov. 12, from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at McCormick Place in room S406A. Dr. Parke is especially excited about this symposium, jointly organized with the SO Committee: “Three SOs will discuss changes that evolved between 1970 and 1990, and three YOs will discuss research and ongoing changes that have evolved in these disciplines since 1990. We hope many ophthalmologists will attend this symposium and benefit from a short course in ophthalmic history.”

“The idea behind this symposium was to bring the YOs and SOs together to learn from each other,” Dr. Herz said. “We got to talking about the huge advances that have been made in ophthalmology since the 1970s and 1980s: the advent of small-incision cataract surgery, with phacoemulsification introduced by Charles Kelman; glaucoma treatments, both medical and surgical; as well as cornea surgery with Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty and femtosecond laser–assisted penetrating keratoplasty.

“We’ve asked some giants in the various subspecialties to give their perspective on these changes, and we’ve also selected some SO and YO experts to talk about keys to practice success and how the Internet has changed education.”

A list of all meeting offerings — including symposia not sponsored specifically by the YO Committee — and registration information can be found in the Virtual Advance Program. Online conversations about the meeting can also be joined or initiated in the Academy Online Community.


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About the author: Denny Smith is a former editor for EyeNet Magazine.

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