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American Academy of Ophthalmology Joint Meeting Marked By Strong Turnout and Rich Scientific Program

November 11, 2008

Strong turnout and a robust scientific program marked the largest and most comprehensive ophthalmic educational meeting in the world, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (Academy) 2008 Joint Meeting in conjunction with the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE), held in Atlanta November 8 to November 11. Preliminary figures for attendance at the meeting were approximately 22,000. Among the offerings featured at the meeting were 277 instruction courses, 79 “Breakfast with the Expert” roundtables, 95 skills transfer courses and more than 100 hours of free scientific sessions. Preliminary figures for attendance at the Subspecialty Day events November 7 and 8 were also strong, totaling more than 6,200.

“This meeting was a huge success by all measures. It was a great opportunity for members to meet with colleagues and to learn about the latest advances in ophthalmic care and research,” said H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, executive vice president of the Academy.

The keynote address for the meeting was delivered by Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Institute of Medicine. In his address, Seeing the Future of Health Care, Dr. Fineberg laid out the paradox that is health care in America today. “It’s the most expensive system in the world, but it fails to live up to expectations,” he said. At the same time, America is facing a demographic transition that will significantly increase the demand for care, particularly ophthalmic care. “Ophthalmology is in the crosshairs of this demographic transition and the demand for services and cost of health care in the United States,” Dr. Fineberg said. “We are facing challenging times, but ophthalmology has an opportunity not only to play a part in the solution but to be an exemplar.” The key, he said, is to “relentlessly focus on increasing the value of what we do for patients–a combination of improving performance and outcomes and decreasing costs. Getting more for every dollar spent.” To listen to Dr. Fineberg’s address, please click here.

“Dr. Fineberg’s remarks underscore the challenge that the Academy and its members face in the coming years with the projected explosion in age-related eye diseases,” said Dr. Hoskins. “That’s why the Academy has undertaken an effort that we call Eye on Efficiency, to help practices meet those demands in the future.”

The opening session on November 9 also included the presentation of the 2008 Laureate Recognition Award, the Academy’s highest honor, to Alan C. Bird, MD., one of the world’s experts on the treatment of retinal vascular disease and genetic and degenerative retinal disorders.

Scientific Program Highlights and Press Briefings

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:

Plasma Interleukin 6 as a Potential Biomarker of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Janice C. Law, MD, and her colleagues at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, identified Interleukin 6 (IL-6) as a good candidate for further study as a potential biomarker for AMD. To read more about this study, please click here.

Corneal Collagen Crosslinking: Treatment Results in Keratoconus Patient. Co-investigators Mohan Rajan, MD, and Sujatha Mohan, MD, of the Rajan Eye Care Hospital, India, found that the corneal collagen crosslinking technique used to treat 60 eyes of patients with keratoconus resulted in positive corneal changes and improved vision and contact lens tolerance. To read more about this study, please click here.

Damage to Optic Nerve in Glaucoma Patients May Indicate Significant Carotid Artery Narrowing. Mostafa Elgohary, MD, of Essex County and Broomfield Hospitals, United Kingdom and his colleagues found an association between internal carotid artery narrowing and the development of glaucoma or glaucoma-like damage to the optic nerve in a significant percentage of patients in their study. To read more about this study, please click here.

Could Religious Beliefs Affect Compliance with Ocular Treatment? Researchers led by Nishant Kumar, MBBS, of the University Hospital, Liverpool, United Kingdom, conducted this first study of patient compliance with self-administered eye drop treatments in relation to fasting by surveying people who practice the world’s major faiths. To read more about this study, please click here.

Contamination of Contact Lens Storage Cases of Refractive Surgery Candidates. Assaf Kratz, MD, and Tova Lifshitz, MD, of Soroka University Medical Center in Israel and their colleagues found significant levels of pathogens that can cause keratitis in contact lens storage cases of candidates for refractive surgery. To read more about this study, please click here.

Refractive Surgical Practices in Persons with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Positivity. Ahmad A. Aref, MD, Pennsylvania State Hershey Eye Center, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and his colleagues investigated current care practices and opinions among refractive surgeons regarding LASIK, intraocular lenses after cataract removal, and similar procedures in people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS. To read more about this study, please click here.

Anti-VEGF for Severe Retinopathy of Prematurity. Alay S. Banker, MD, and his colleagues, Banker’s Retina Clinic and Laser Centre, Gujarat, India, evaluated antivascular endothelial growth factor (Anti-VEGF) therapy in 21 babies who had or were at high risk for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and found rapid, effective treatment provided results that avoided the complications and risks of other ROP treatments and was safer to provide to medically fragile babies. To read more about this study, please click here.

Media Briefings: Three briefings for the media provided overviews of advances in eye-related research, patient care, and health policy in 2008. Audio of the briefings, along with the presenters’ slides, are available in the Academy Newsroom. The topics covered were:

Advances in Pediatric Ophthalmology, with panelists Michael X. Repka, MD. R. Michael Siatkowski, MD, and Jonathan M. Holmes, MD.

Advances in Glaucoma Care and Research, with panelists Andrew G. Iwach, MD, and Ruth D. Williams, MD.

Health Care Reform in the New Administration, presented by William Rich, MD, the Medical Director of Health Policy for the Academy.

2008 Year in Review: Updates on Key Issues in the News (LASIK, Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatments, and Contact Lens Care), with panelists Richard L. Abbott, MD, George A. Williams, MD, and Thomas L. Steinemann, MD.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons–Eye M.D.s–with more than 27,000 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. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy’s Web site at www.aao.org.




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