The Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS)-[http://www.optometricglaucomasociety.org/], the subject of this month's Guest Editorial by Murray Fingeret, is part of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA), along with ophthalmological societies from around the world. This March 6, 2008 the WGA is partnering with the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) for a global initiative for the first “World Glaucoma Day.”
World glaucoma Day is being highlighted because, as WGA and WGPA note, glaucoma is a progressive disease causing irreversible visual loss, usually without warning until relatively advanced, and because 50% of affected people in the developed world and up to 90% in developing countries do not know they have it and are not on treatment. They believe that community awareness needs to be significantly increased, including awareness of the disease and of the need to have regular eye checks, thereby permitting earlier detection and avoidance of what should be a preventable visual disability.
The sponsors have worked for recognition and support by national and international organizations and governments in various ways, such as issuing commemorative stamps and media releases. WGA and WGPA have encouraged and supported promotional material, local activities such as newspaper articles, radio and television coverage as well as “screening” campaigns in public places, and “open-door” days at glaucoma clinics.
Optometry membership in this World Glaucoma Association is relatively recent but quite visible– especially in the contributions to glaucoma research. This fact, and the interesting emergence of OGS, is the subject of this month's Guest Editorial by Murray Fingeret, OD, FAAO, the 2005 recipient of the Academy's Carel C. Koch Memorial Medal. As AAO Past President Tom Lewis, a founding leader in OGS and its current Treasurer, explains, “Murray was the first (Founding) President of OGS. He has been the driving force behind the formation of the organization and the major reason it has enjoyed such dramatic success in a short period of time. His relationships and professionalism have been instrumental in both allowing a seamless integration of OGS into the World Glaucoma Association and in our ability to attract the top world experts in glaucoma to speak at our annual meetings.”
The Academy of Optometry and its Journal (Optometry & Vision Science) have played a supportive role in the development of OGS. The Academy annual meeting site has been the home of all of the OGS annual scientific meetings. The Academy's foundation supporting education and research (American Optometric Foundation- AOF) is also the home and partner for the newly established OGS Ezell Fellowship that will see its first OGS/AOF Fellowship Award this year. (See: http://www.optometricglaucomasociety.org/html/ogsezell.html).
Optometry can be very proud of its contributions to glaucoma eye care as well as to research and education that advances this care. Just two years ago (July 2006), Optometry and Vision Science (OVS) dedicated an entire Feature Issue to original glaucoma research and recent discoveries. That was the first such focused journal issue in optometry and was Guest Edited by four of OGS founding members, who are also Academy Fellows (John Flanagan, OD, PhD, FAAO, Murray Fingeret, OD, FAAO, Tom Lewis, OD, PhD, FAAO, and Bill Swanson, PhD, FAAO).
In 2008 OVS will publish another entire Feature Issue on glaucoma research and reviews. It is Guest Edited by Brad Fortune, OD, PhD, FAAO, William Hare, OD, PhD, Alison McKendrick, OD, PhD, and Robert Weinreb, MD. It will reflect the considerable research activity and practitioner interest in strategies for glaucoma diagnosis, management, prevention, and the general exploration of novel approaches that impact caring for patients with glaucoma. It has also attracted scholarly invited clinical reviews of glaucoma research and patient care, written by leading researchers and glaucoma experts. And it will feature the 2006 Prentice Medal Lecture, “A Neuron Doctrine for Glaucoma,” by Ron Harwerth, OD, PhD, FAAO.
Anthony J. Adams