Despite their relatively small populations, there is a strong interest in neuro-ophthalmology in Australia and New Zealand. As in many other countries, very few clinicians can claim that their job consists of “pure” neuro-ophthalmology. Instead, most “neuro-ophthalmologists” also practice some aspects of general neurology or ophthalmology. Nevertheless, there is a small, but very committed, neuro-ophthalmological community with experienced clinicians who generate a steady research output from both countries (Table 1).
In early September 2012, the Neuro-Ophthalmology Society of Australia (NOSA) held its 28th Annual Scientific Meeting in Melbourne. The society was originally founded in 1985 by Dr Isla Williams (Fig. 1) and proudly boasts Dr William Hoyt as its Patron. Since its foundation, the attendance at the meetings has gradually increased to around 100 delegates each year. Bearing in mind that the combined population of Australia and New Zealand is only 27 million, this represents an impressive achievement.
Over the years, delegates at NOSA have been very fortunate to hear excellent lectures given by invited guests from Europe and North America. This year was no exception, and those who attended were treated to outstanding presentations by Jonathan Trobe (Ann Arbor, MI), Jason Barton (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), and Michael Burdon (Birmingham, United Kingdom). Each year, NOSA awards a prize for the best trainee presentation in neuro-ophthalmology. The prize supports attendance at the next North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society meeting, and this year was won by Jennifer Fan from Auckland, New Zealand.
Neuro-ophthalmologists known to our international colleagues include Michael Halmagyi (Sydney), Isla Williams, Owen White and Lionel Kowal (Melbourne), Christian Lueck (Canberra), and Helen Danesh-Meyer (Auckland). There are many other active clinicians with a specialist interest, including (but not limited to) John Harrison, Anthony Pane, Ioanne Anderson, and James Walker (Queensland); Jonathan Ell, Dan Milder, Ian Francis, Dennis Lowe, Catherine Dunlop, Sara Booth-Mason, Jen Sandbach, Kimberley Tan, Nick Saad, and Clare Fraser (New South Wales); Justin O’Day, John King, Mark Paine, John Waterston, Larry Abel, Susan Carden, Simon Permezel, Oded Hauptmann, Neil Shuey, David Szmulewicz, Kenny Chan, and Luke Chen (Victoria); John Crompton and Celia Chen (South Australia); Michael Dreyer (Tasmania); and Tim Anderson and Stuart Mossman (New Zealand).
Clinical and Scientific Meetings
The largest local meeting specifically dedicated to neuro-ophthalmology is hosted each year by NOSA. However, the annual scientific meetings of the national bodies in ophthalmology [Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)] and neurology (Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists) regularly contain sessions or seminars on neuro-ophthalmology. In addition, there are many regular local meetings held in various hospital departments in Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
Many members of NOSA are active internationally. The 1996 meeting of the International Neuro-Ophthalmology Society was held in Sydney. Members regularly attend overseas meetings such as the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, the International Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, the European Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology, and the Asian Society of Neuro-Ophthalmology. In addition, members of NOSA have been involved in delivering outreach educational courses in neuro-ophthalmology to surrounding countries in Asia. We have recently delivered courses in neuro-ophthalmology in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam supported by the RANZCO and the charity “Sight for All,” and further courses are planned for China and Laos in the near future.
Over the last 10 years, Isla Williams and colleagues (principally, Mark Paine, Anthony Pane, and Christian Lueck) have set up an organization known as NeuroVision whose aim is to promote education and research in neuro-ophthalmology in Australia and New Zealand. A Web site (www.neurovision.org.au) was launched in 2005, and a training weekend for residents/trainees in neurology and ophthalmology has now been held every year since 2006. The meeting has proven very popular. Planning is now under way to develop a charitable foundation aimed at supporting research in neuro-ophthalmology.
In summary, the neuro-ophthalmological community “down under” is very active. We would welcome increased contact with the international community, and all are welcome to attend the next meeting of NOSA at the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in September 2013 (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).