Section Editor(s): Digre, Kathleen B. MD
Department of Ophthalmology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
Department of Neurology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
The history of neuro-ophthalmology in Korea is rather short. Until recently, only a few ophthalmologists and neurologists were interested in neuro-ophthalmology and engaged in the management of patients with neuro-ophthalmologic disorders. In the past, the academic activities in this field were carried out only as a subspecialty in the ophthalmology or neurology societies without an independent society for neuro-ophthalmology. However, in recent years, there has been a marked progress. We now have 2 neuro-ophthalmology societies in Korea, one run by ophthalmologists and the other by neurologists.
On the ophthalmology side, Professor Bong Leen Chang (Fig. 1) was a pioneer in neuro-ophthalmology. He had neuro-ophthalmology training in 1975 under the mentorship of H. Stanley Thompson, MD, at the University of Iowa. On returning to Korea, he started a neuro-ophthalmology clinic at Seoul National University Hospital and trained many fellows who went on to practice at various university hospitals in Korea. In 2004, he also wrote the first neuro-ophthalmology textbook in Korean (Fig. 2).
Following Professor Chang, Professor Jeong-Min Hwang at Seoul National University has made significant contributions to the advancement of neuro-ophthalmology through her continuing dedication as a clinician, researcher, and teacher. Dr.Hwang studied neuro-ophthalmology at University of Southern California (Mark Borchert, MD, 1993) and at the Wilmer Eye Institute (Neil Miller, MD, 1998). In addition, Professor Hyosook Ahn at Ulsan College of Medicine is an active board member of the Asian Neuro-Ophthalmology Society.
On the neurology side, Professor Gyung-Cheon Chung (Fig. 3) was the first neurologist who specialized in neuro-ophthalmology. After neuro-ophthalmology fellowship in Case Western Reserve University Hospital from 1985 to 1987 under the mentorship of Robert Daroff, MD, he started practicing neuro-ophthalmology in Hanyang University Hospital. In 1992, he moved to KyungHee University as the founding chairman of Department of Neurology, and continued his neuro-ophthalmologic practice. Following Professor Chung's example, several other neurologists received specialized training in neuro-ophthalmology and neuro-otology.
Professor Jai-Il Kim, the founding chairman of Department of Neurology, Dankook University, completed fellowship training (R. John Leigh, MD) at Case Western Reserve University from 1999 to 2000. Since 1995, he has organized an annual workshop for vestibular function tests with the ENT department in Dankook University. Professor Ki Bum Sung, who developed an interest in eye movements during his residency training in Hanyang University Hospital, is also one of the pioneers in Korean neuro-ophthalmology. He began practicing in 1994 and had fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh Eye & Ear Institute, 1999–2001 (Joseph M. Furman, MD).
After neuro-otology (1997–1998, Robert Baloh, MD) and neuro-ophthalmology (1998–2000, James Sharpe, MD) fellowships, Professor Ji-Soo Kim opened a neuro-otology/neuro-ophthalmology clinic in Cheju National University Hospital and moved to Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in 2003. Professor Kim has trained 1 or 2 neuro-otology/neuro-ophthalmology fellows every year, and now his former fellows hold faculty positions at 11 university hospitals of Korea. He also organizes a 2-day neuro-otology and neuro-ophthalmology workshop during the first weekend of July each year, attracting approximately 200 participants.
In 1999, neurologists interested in neuro-otology and neuro-ophthalmology founded the Korean Balance Society along with otolaryngologists and vestibular physiologists. The society holds meetings twice a year.
In 2009 and 2010, 2 Korean neuro-ophthalmology societies were founded by ophthalmologists and neurologists. The Korean Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (KNOS) (Table 1) was founded on September 26, 2009. Professor Bong Leen Chang was elected as the first president, and KNOS currently has 99 members. KNOS has held several academic events, including periodic symposia and case discussions, and engages in public outreach programs. Topics of the educational meetings include “Familiarize Yourself with Neuro-Ophthalmology” (2010), “Neuro-Ophthalmic Diagnoses in Patients with Decreased Visual Acuity” (2011), and “Differential Diagnoses of Eye Movement and Pupillary Abnormalities” (2012). At the beginning of June each year, KNOS sponsors an in-depth case study seminar. The current president, Professor Jong Bok Lee at Yonsei University, stated that the goal of KNOS is to develop into a society of international caliber and establish treatment guidelines for the medical community of Korea. In the spring of 2012, KNOS organized a neuro-ophthalmology program at the 27th Congress of Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology held in Busan, Korea.
The Korean Society of Neuro-ophthalmology (Table 2) (www.neuro-ophthalmology.co.kr) created by neurologists had an inaugural symposium at KyungHee University on December 18, 2010. About 60 neurologists participated and elected Professor Kyung-Cheon Chung as the founding president. Since then, the Korean Society of Neuro-ophthalmology has held biannual meetings, with more than 100 neurologists in attendance. The society also hosts neuro-ophthalmology case conferences on regular basis and began publishing its official Korean journal, Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology. Recently, the society organized a committee for textbook compilation (Chair: Professor Ji-Soo Kim) with the goal of publishing a textbook of neuro-ophthalmology in Korean, to be completed by the Annual Spring Meeting in June 2013. With a generous donation by Professor Chung, the society is now planning a nationwide survey regarding evaluation and management of patients with ophthalmoplegia. Currently, the Korean Society of Neuro-Ophthalmology has 96 members.
In spite of the relatively short history, we have seen a marked progress in neuro-ophthalmology in Korea over the past decade. More Korean physicians now attend the annual NANOS meeting. Each April, both ophthalmologists and neurologists hold a joint conference to review and discuss the topics presented at the previous NANOS meeting. We believe that neuro-ophthalmology in Korea will continue to grow and Korean neuro-ophthalmologists will become more involved in international societies.