The Annual Meeting of the American Academy, the premier education and research meeting in optometry, was a resounding success.
The more than 4000 optometry attendees heard the very latest and very best of new discoveries and developments in optometry. And the Academy welcomed well over 100 new Fellows, many of whom have worked several years toward induction into Academy Fellowship (FAAO). Attendees came from all over the world from dozens of different countries. All enjoyed the unique opportunity to advance their education with attendance at cutting edge symposia and courses. The unique opportunity for networking, exchange of ideas and a ‘recharging' of the energy levels of the clinicians and educators, characteristic of Academy Annual meetings, was quite apparent.
The student and resident attendance was at record levels and these colleagues surely were inspired by the vibrancy of the fellowship, the energy levels of the participants, and the opportunity to ‘rub shoulders' with the leading clinicians, educators, and researchers in optometry today.
The Academy, at its annual banquet, welcomed its new President Mark Eger, OD, FAAO, and also celebrated the achievements of its new Fellows and Diplomates. President Eger has provided an interesting Guest Editorial message in this issue of OVS.
There were the usual exciting lectures and Symposia presentations that are among the richest offerings of recent advances in optometry. The Plenary opening session highlighted optometry's future and evidenced-based health care as part of the practice mix. The Hirsch Symposium tackled Bionic Eye issues. The combined ARVO/Academy Symposium attracted top researchers and innovator colleagues in imaging from around the world. Optometrists had access to more than 300 hours of top notch COPE approved continuing education including the plenary session, Awards Lectures, and featured symposia. Scientific papers and posters were, as always, an integral part of the education offered attendees.
And as usual Fellows and attendees danced into the night at the annual “Australia Party”—a particular favorite of student attendees.
The meeting program opened with a well-attended Plenary session highlighting a futurist's view of the impact of generational changes, nanotechnology and other advances in science, and health care delivery. The importance of evidence-based health care and eye care was authoritatively presented by a leader from the Cochrane Project (an international, not-for-profit organization that produces and disseminates systematic reviews of healthcare information and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and otherstudies). Dr. Dickersin noted how practitioners can not only reap the benefits of research results, but also contribute to its data collection.
The Plenary session finished with a superb presentation by the Academy's own Donald Mutti who used the myopia control literature as a specific c example of how the Cochrane Project can help bring today's research to tomorrow's practice.
The Awards Lectures were quite stunning in their implications for future eye care as well as highlighting the advances in our understanding of vision and vision function over the last 3 decades!
The Charles F. Prentice Medal Lecturer, Clifton Schor, OD, PhD, FAAO, provided an impressive account of his fascinating path of discovery in binocular vision. In particular he focused on the topic of motor plasticity and its relation to orthoptics. His lecture gave us an example of an application of motor plasticity to presbyopia and orthoptics; but its much broader focus was intended to show the opportunities to expand the scope of orthoptics. The Glenn A Fry, AOF, Award lecture was given by internationally-renowned researcher, Laura Frishman MS, PhD, FAAO. Laura gave a wonderful account of the advances, particularly in her laboratory, of our expanded understanding of the electrical circuitry and function of the retina and its clinical implications.
As usual the Hirsch Symposium traced out new frontiers in clinical care that have come from research discoveries. It focused on “The Bionic Eye: Posterior Segment-New Therapies.” The session featured a series of talks from leaders in the development of retinal implants, tests to evaluate retinal function in implanted retinas, and genetic approaches to saving or restoring vision in degenerating eyes. This was a logical follow up to last years symposium on the Bionic Eye which focused on anterior segment implants for the cornea and crystalline lens accommodation functions. The Symposium jointly sponsored by ARVO and the Academy (“Assessing the structure and function of the visual system using novel imaging technologies”) provided quite breathtaking insights for the many clinicians who attended. In the session dedicated to new imaging techniques, attendees were treated to nine excellent presentations of the latest in optical coherence tomography resolution, adaptive optics and scanning laser ophthalmoscope combinations, in vivo measures of lens accommodation by imaging, and cortical imaging by functional magnetic resonance.
For a third consecutive year this Journal presented a Continuing Education Course (“Glaucoma: OVS Presents-Discovery to Eye Care”) that brought eight world-renowned OVS authors together to focus specifically on the clinical implications of their own recently published research.
In short, attendees had 4 days of education-packed events and are no doubt looking forward to the 2009 annual meeting in Orlando Florida (November 11–14, 2009).
Anthony J. Adams