'Views on Exhibition' was the 2018 theme for this year's July Scientific Meeting (JSM) held at the Rydges Hotel in Melbourne. There was a definite a buzz around the registration desk as delegates arrived en masse. With over 150 delegates, invited speakers and sponsors the Broadway room was standing room only for session one.
Dr Brian Ang opened the session with an informative presentation on MIGS vs SLT and the changing paradigm in glaucoma treatment. He shared videos and discussed advantages and disadvantages of four different types of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery devices (iStent, Hydrus, Cypass and the Xen). To take everyone on a academic journey into quantum physics and biology, Associate Professor Qureshi educated us and discussed the challenges and exciting possibilities of future eye research. Dr Justin Friebel engaged the entire audience with his presentation on a selection of oculoplastics cases that caused collective sighs and gasps during the video of the patient with cannaliculitis and another case involving a toothbrush after ingesting magic mushrooms!
The JSM always maintains a focus on paediatrics and strabismus and Dr Wendy Marshman explored conditions best suited for the use for botox sharing current research and preferred practice patterns. Dr Shivanand Sheth delivered a fascinating talk on Down Syndrome and ocular characteristics of these patients. His key messages were that Down Syndrome patients refractive errors don't change much over time and abnormal accommodation is common so it is critical to test near vision when possible or with dynamic retinoscopy. With that in mind, careful consideration is important when prescribing glasses in these children.
Retinal topics were the theme of session two and Dr Thomas Edwards shared his expertise in gene therapy and his involvement in planning the future of gene therapy trials in Australia. Dr Stuart Keel, a research orthoptist from Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA) followed with a insightful presentation on artificial intelligence and it's use in areas of retinal and diabetic screening. He discussed challenges and benefits of this technology particularly in rural areas. Jo Lynch, an orthoptist with expertise in electrophysiology, presented three fascinating cases of misdiagnosed retinal dystrophies in children. Her key messages were that in many cases, children with these disorders are often overlooked or misdiagnosed initially. With today's busy primary school classrooms, it is easy for a child with visual impairment to appear to complete tasks adequately. She showed photos of cluttered and classroom walls, visually confusing tasks for prep children and illustrated the inherent problems with the design of many literacy and numeracy classroom tasks.
In session three, the theme was global eye health with a diverse range of topics covered. We were privileged to hear from Dr Graeme Pollock and Heather Machin who were both involved in the recent launch of the Barcelona Principles by the Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations. Graeme shared his extensive experience with corneal transplantation and eye banking and how much has changed in recent years. Heather illustrated the importance of choosing organisations that focus on the big picture when volunteering on eye camps and NGO's. She highlighted the importance of capacity building and development, collaboration and using resources and guidelines available from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and World Health Organisation (WHO) and from RANZCO. Myra McGuinness, an orthoptist and biostatistician, shared her research on paediatric pterygium, it's epidemiology, risk factors and and a number of cases she saw when volunteering in Tanzania. Finally, Rosamond Gilden presented her paper on making a difference in Aboriginal Eye Health. With the goal of Closing the Gap by 2020, it was incredible to hear the progress we've made but we are not there yet.
One of the highlights from session four was the outstanding presentations by the two Leonie Collins Prize recipients. The two recent graduates presented with confidence on two distinctly different topics; Peters Anomaly and Amniotic Membrane Grafts in Reducing Corneal Graft failure. This was the first year that the prize was awarded at the JSM meeting and a fitting end to the day. Donna Corcoran took us on photographic journey of the amazing work that Australian Health and Humanitarian Aid (AHHA) is doing in Cambodia to help patients get access to eye care and what orthoptists can do to be involved. To tie the meeting back to Orthoptics Australia, Marion Rivers as federal president, described the OA as an octopus with eight tentacles of influence, highlighting the dedicated work OA is doing for it's members and for the orthoptic profession.
The organising and scientific committees can be commended on their outstanding work in putting together a strong scientific program with an excellent array of speakers and seamless organisation on the day. Well done to JSM team!