• 2020 Honorary Lectures


    Below, the honorary lecturers preview their presentations. Six lectures will be delivered as part of AAO 2020 Virtual’s daily program (Friday, Nov. 13-Sunday, Nov. 15). Another four will be part of the on-demand program. (After the meeting, all 10 will be available on demand to meeting registrants.) To explore the full AAO 2020 Virtual program, use the Virtual Meeting Guide.

    Register today at aao.org/2020

    FRIDAY, NOV. 13

    Live program: Friday 9:15-9:30 a.m. PST (RET04V).

    Julia Haller, MDCharles L. Schepens, MD, Lecture: Retina In the Pandemic: Hear Our Roar! —Julia Haller, MD.

     “As 2020, The Year of the Eye, morphed under our gaze into the Year of SARS-CoV-2, ophthalmology became the specialty most impacted by the seismic upheavals of the pandemic. All subspecialties, including retina, reeled under the impact. This year’s first-ever virtual Schepens Lecture will delve into Covid-19 and its mark on our specialty—the ways we confronted its assault, some of the outcomes of that confrontation, and its long-term reverberations.”

    This lecture takes place during the Retina Subspecialty Day meeting (Friday, Nov. 13, 7:40-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:20 p.m., PST), which is organized in conjunction with the American Society of Retina Specialists, the Macula Society, the Retina Society, and the Club Jules Gonin.


    Live program: Friday 9:50-10:06 a.m. PST (PED05V).

    Sean P. Donahue, MD, PhDThe Leonard Apt Lecture: Surgical Management of Infantile Nystagmus—Sean P. Donahue, MD, PhD.  

    “The differential diagnosis and management of children (and adults) with infantile nystagmus syndrome (INS) can be perplexing. All patients with infantile nystagmus must have the integrity of their afferent visual system confirmed, either through direct examination, neuroimaging, or genetic testing. INS must be distinguished from fusion maldevelopment syndrome and compressive lesions of the anterior afferent visual pathways (spasmus nutans syndrome). Surgical management seeks to eliminate abnormal head positioning (AHP) to achieve a null position and to reduce any coexisting strabismus by employing techniques of strabismus surgery. Augmenting Kestenbaum’s original 5-6-7-8 formula is effective in reducing AHP for up to 10 years or more. Modifications of these numbers should be used when strabismus coexists. Surgery on the cyclovertical muscles can reduce or eliminate vertical (chin up or chin down) or torsional head positions.”

    This lecture takes place during the Pediatric Subspecialty Day meeting (Friday, Nov. 13, 7:40-11:30 a.m., PST), which is organized in conjunction with the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    SATURDAY, NOV. 14 

    Live program: Saturday, 7:00-7:30 a.m. PST (OS02V).

    Michael X. Repka, MD, MBAJackson Memorial Lecture: Improving Amblyopia Outcomes Through Clinical Trials and Practice Measurement: Room for Improvement—Michael X. Repka, MD, MBA.

    “My lecture draws upon amblyopia research from PEDIG trials going back to 1997 as the foundation, and then it explores contemporary clinical practice with data on 1.7 million amblyopic patients in the IRIS Registry. I will discuss some key differences between those datasets, particularly in amblyopia causation and outcomes. One similarity, however, is that both sources reveal that there is room for improvement. We can use clinical trials and registry outcome measures to illuminate the gaps between the ‘ideal’ treatment scenario and ‘real-world’ practice and, more important, to employ the findings to achieve better visual outcomes for children with amblyopia.”      

    This lecture takes place during the Saturday Opening Session (7:00-7:30 a.m. PST).


    Live program: Saturday, 8:58-9:15 a.m. PST (Sym35V).

    Tom Giannulli, MD, MSParker Heath Lecture: The Accelerated Move to Digital Healthcare—Tom Giannulli, MD, MS.

    “The recent COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed the transformation toward digital health and accelerated new modes of patient engagement that have the promise to deliver more efficient an effective care, while reducing existing health inequities. The lecture will examine this macro trend and how the convergence of technology and new business models can lead to advances in chronic disease management across all populations and address underlying clinical and social issues that have been barriers to improving outcomes for several years. The lecture will also preview next generation digital health solutions and their potential advantages.”

    This lecture takes place during the live symposium The Artificial Eye: 2020 and the Dawn of Innovation (8:35-9:20 a.m. PST), which also features the following:

    • Corneal Cell Therapy With Magnetic Nanoparticle Delivery—Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD
    • Bioelectronic Artificial Sight—Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD
    • Q&A with Kevin Thomas Flaherty, MD

    This symposium is cosponsored by the American Medical Association Ophthalmology Section Council.


    Live program: Saturday 1:00-1:30 p.m. PST (Sym29V).

    Justine R. Smith, MDC. Stephen and Frances Foster Lecture on Uveitis and Immunology: Challenges and Successes in the Management of Vitreoretinal Lymphoma—Justine R. Smith, MD.

    “Vitreoretinal lymphoma is a rare cancer, but it is one that causes distressing visual symptoms and has high mortality in comparison to systemic lymphomas. Ideally, the diagnosis of vitreoretinal lymphoma would be made early, and subsequent treatment would be rapidly effective. However, management challenges stem from a masquerading presentation, the limited sample that is available for pathological assessment, and lack of definitive studies to guide extensive and local treatment regimens. Fortunately, advances in understanding of cancer biology, identification of sensitive biomarkers, and novel cancer therapeutics offer opportunities to address these issues. This lecture will consider the advances and limits of the current approach to managing vitreoretinal lymphoma.”

    This lecture is a stand-alone symposium (1:00-1:30 p.m. PST).

    SUNDAY, NOV. 15

    Live program: Sunday, Nov. 15, 10:20-11:05 a.m. PST (Sym28V).

    Penn JilletteMichael F. Marmor, MD, Lecture in Ophthalmology and the Arts: Lyin' to Your Lyin' Eyes—Penn Jillette.

    The world-renowned magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller gives this year’s Michael F. Marmor, MD, Lecture in Ophthalmology and the Arts. With tie-ins to both Las Vegas (where AAO 2020 was initially to be held) and sleight of hand—“the hand is quicker than the eye,” Mr. Jillette is sure to share perspectives on the eye and vision that may be revealing.

    This lecture is a stand-alone symposium (10:20-11:05 a.m. PST).

    ON DEMAND

    These four honorary lectures will be part of the on-demand program. If you are registered for AAO 2020 Virtual, you can view these at any time once the meeting platform opens. 

    Thuy A. Doan, MD, PhDJones-Smolin Lecture: Drugs, Bugs, and Antibiotic Resistance—Thuy A. Doan, MD, PhD. On demand (Sym04).

    “A billion doses of azithromcyin have been distributed worldwide for the elimination of trachoma. In the United States, azithromycin is one of the top 10 antibiotics being prescribed. This lecture will cover what we know about the effects of oral azithromycin on the various human microbiomes (gut, nasopharyngeal, and ocular surface) and the development of antibiotic resistance, all in the context of randomized controlled trials using high-throughput sequencing technology.”

    This lecture takes place at the conclusion of the on-demand symposium Ocular and Gut Microbial Dysbiosis in Ocular Infections and Inflammation, which also features the following:

    • The Human Microbiome: The Relationship Between the Gut Microbiome and Human Health—Kara M. Cavuoto, MD
    • From DNA Sequences to Bacterial and Fungal Microbiomes to Dysbiosis: Analysis and Interpretation—Martin Zinkernagel, MD
    • Laboratory Jargon in the Study of the Microbiome: Clinical Samples to Nucleotides—Phoebe Lin, MD, PhD
    • What Has the Gut Microbiome Got to Do With Uveitis, AMD, and Sjogren Syndrome?—Soumyava Basu, MS
    • Is There a Connection Between the Gut Microbiome and Ocular Infectious Diseases?—Shivaji Sisinthy, Sr, ScD

    This symposium is Cosponsored by the Ocular Microbiology and Immunology Group.


    David S. Friedman, MD, MPH, PhDRobert N. Shaffer Lecture: The Future of Glaucoma Care—David S. Friedman, MD, MPH, PhD. On demand (Sym50).

    “The COVID pandemic has highlighted that business-as-usual in caring for glaucoma patients is not possible—and this is only the beginning. The working number of ophthalmologists in the United States is decreasing, but the number of patients with glaucoma is on the rise, largely owing to the aging of the population. This trend is mirrored throughout the world. New technologies and the ability to use ever more data that are relevant to patient outcomes will result in a transformed care model, one where far fewer in-person visits are required and where doctors have more evidence to support each patient’s care. The times are not changing, they have changed. By adapting with them, we can provide even better care to our patients.”

    This lecture takes place at the conclusion of on-demand symposium, Celebrating the Role of Clinician-Scientists in Advancing Glaucoma Care, which also features the following:

    • OCT Imaging in Glaucoma Care—Joel S. Schuman, MD
    • Personalized Glaucoma Genetics Investigations—John Fingert, MD, PhD
    • Surgical Innovation—Malik Y. Kahook, MD
    • Health Care Delivery/eHealth—Paula Anne Newman-Casey, MD
    • Neuroinflammation, Neuroprotection and Glaucoma—Milica Margeta, MD, PhD

    This symposium is Cosponsored by Prevent Blindness.


    Denise de FreitasWhitney G. Sampson Lecture: Contact Lens–Related Keratitis—Denise de Freitas. On demand (Sym24).

    “Infectious keratitis is a sight-threatening contact lens complication. The incidence is low, but contact lens wear is an important predisposing factor. Risk varies based on the type of lens, correct use of appropriate cleaning solutions, and the wearing schedule. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common pathogen followed by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Serratia. Acanthamoeba, although rare, is one of the most feared infections due to the difficulty in diagnosing and treating some cases. Sterile infiltrates can be a confusing factor with microbial keratitis and will also be addressed.”

    This lecture takes place at the conclusion of on-demand symposium, Contact Lenses: The Role of Biofilms in Health and Disease, which also features the following:

    • Biofilm of the Ocular Surface—Maria S. Cortina, MD
    • Contact Lens and Biofilms—Prashant Garg, MD
    • Fungal Keratitis and Biofilms—Eduardo C. Alfonso, MD
    • Giant Fornix Syndrome and Biofilms—Shigeru Kinoshita, MD

    The symposium is cosponsored by the Eye and Contact Lens Association.


    Patricia Chevez-Barrios MDZimmerman Lecture: Outcomes of Two Prospective Clinical Trials: The Impact on Current Management of Children With Retinoblastoma—Patricia Chevez-Barrios MD. On demand (Sym05).

    “The first prospective phase 1 trial using gene therapy in children with vitreous tumor seeds of retinoblastoma asked two main questions: Is intravitreal injection safe in an eye containing retinoblastoma, and is gene therapy safe for the eye? Through the use of our injection technique design and the development of ocular toxicity grading, the trial answered these questions affirmatively. Today, we safely perform routine intravitreal chemotherapy injections in children with retinoblastoma, thereby avoiding enucleation and radiation.

    “The COG-ARET-0332 multicenter trial used histopathologic findings to evaluate adjuvant chemotherapy and identified a subgroup of children who required an intensified regimen to avoid intracranial recurrence. This lecture illustrates how prospective clinical trials based on ophthalmic pathology can improve patient outcomes.”

    This lecture takes place at the conclusion of on-demand symposium, Systemic Oncology: An Update for Ophthalmologists, which also features the following:

    • Update on Breast and Lung Carcinoma: Epidemiology, Emerging Therapies and Toxicities—Brian P. Marr, MD
    • Update on Cutaneous Melanoma: Epidemiology, Emerging Therapies and Toxicities—Sapna Patel, MD
    • Update on Leukemia and Lymphoma: Epidemiology, Emerging Therapies and Toxicities—Arun D. Singh, MD
    • Diagnosis and Treatment of Ocular and Periocular Metastases—Jonathan W. Kim, MD
    • Histopathologic and Molecular Features That Guide Targeted Therapy—Nora V. Laver, MD

    This symposium is Cosponsored by the American Association of Ophthalmic Oncologists and Pathologists.


    Get the latest meeting news. Read EyeNet’s meeting publications, including the EyeNet AAO 2020 News tabloid-sized newspaper and AAO 2020 Daily e-newsletters.

    Visit the archives. Read summaries of last year’s honorary lectures at AAO 2019 in San Francisco.