The 46th Annual Scientific Congress of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists in Brisbane last November was by all accounts, an inspiring, thought provoking, internationally recognised scientific event.
The induction of a new College President, 34 doctors admitted as Fellows, a host of awards presented in recognition of excellence and of course, a massive scientific program jam packed into five days.
Delegates to RANZCO 2014 and their partners were welcomed to the vibrant city of Brisbane at a reception hosted at the magnificent Gallery of Modern Art, home to more than 16,000 Australian and international paintings, sculptures, decorative art objects, multimedia installations, and works on paper.
It was a colourful, light-hearted start to what was an intense, diverse and inspiring educational program, designed to ultimately ensure patients receive the highest quality of care.
A number of novel approaches to the program were adopted including a minimal carbon footprint for delegates…
More than 1,300 ophthalmologists and eye health professionals attended the mutil-stream five-day program. A diverse range of topics were presented by leading ophthalmologists from Australia, UK, USA and Spain. Associate Professor Mark Daniell delivered the Council lecture titled ‘The Clinician – Scientists in Ophthalmology – Is it absurd in the 21st century?’. Professor Hugh Taylor delivered the Sir Norman Gregg lecture on ‘Diabetes and Eye Health’. The 2015 Ida Mann lecture was ‘Paradigm Shifts, Peregrinations and Pixies in Ophthalmology’, delivered by Professor Minas Coroneo and the Hollows Lecture; ‘Nothing Occurs in Isolation: Accounting for Context and Consequences’ was presented by Dr. Garry Brian.
Update lectures, delivered by visiting international experts in ophthalmology, covered a broad range of topics from glaucoma, presented by Dr. Richard Wormald; to corneal and cataracts, delivered by Dr. Terrence P. O’Brien; paediatrics by Dr. Ken Nischal; retina by Dr. William F Mieler; and a refractive and cataract update presented by A/Prof Josè L Güell. The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, venue for the
2014 World Leaders’ G20 meeting, provided world class facilities and an opportunity for speakers to share a stage used only the week before by US President Barack Obama and our own Prime Minister Tony Abbott!
Addressing Clinical Research
Keynote speakers Dr. Richard Wormald and A/Professor Mark Daniell provided in-depth lectures addressing clinical research and the benefits to ophthalmic practice. Dr. Wormald, coordinating editor of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group, reported on evidence in glaucoma practice in his glaucoma update lecture. He highlighted the fact that glaucoma currently affects more than 300,000 Australians and stressed that clinical research can help identify clinical uncertainties associated with glaucoma. New treatments and methods of detection are key to helping reduce the prevalence of glaucoma.
Associate Professor Mark Daniell
asked the big question: is a clinician scientist a dying breed? He went on to deliver a motivating lecture, encouraging more clinicians to include research as a part of their ophthalmological career.
The complex and conflicting demands
on clinicians and the difficulty in achieving an effective research program were highlighted. Drawing on his significant expertise as Lead Researcher of corneal research at Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), A/Prof. Daniell also called for the introduction of more effective mentoring programs to help encourage more effective research by clinicians.
ORIA Plenary Lectures
The ORIA Plenary lectures were this year delivered by researchers Dr. John Sarks, Professor Keryn Williams and Professor Glen Gole. The session highlighted the work of these outstanding researchers, funded by the ORIA, during the ‘70s and 80s. Dr. Sark’s early work, performed at Lithgow hospital in the 1970’s, formed an important part of our early understanding about the mechanisms for age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Mark Loane and Jacinta Spurett provided an update on the important work of the RANZCO Eye Foundation. The introduction of a new membership program for fellows and new branding were highlighted as key initiatives for 2015.
Professor Ken Nischal, from Pittsburgh USA, provided an interesting opportunity to change current paradigms associated with treatment of neonatal corneal opacities. Professor Nischal encouraged ophthalmologists to work toward restoring vision sooner and stressed the importance of achieving even small gains in vision on the development of gross motor skills in the very young. A video of a young three-year old boy, with 20/2000 vision navigating, a complex monkey bar frame elegantly demonstrated his perspective.
Concurrent Symposiums and Rapid Fire
Concurrent symposiums and rapid fire sessions were held throughout the conference including courses on oculoplastics, cataract surgery, uveitis and glaucoma. New to the program were courses on ethics and professionalism, chaired by outgoing president Dr. Stephen Best and OMICS, the incredibly data rich studies being conducted on a large or genome wide scale,, chaired by Professor David Mackey. Rapid fire sessions provided an interesting and diverse range of topics. The Lion’s Eye Institute’s work centring on the nature and incidence of children’s eye injuries was reported with Dr. Anne-Marie Yardley presenting interesting data on children’s eye injuries in Western Australia. With more than 27 per cent of those admitted requiring surgical intervention and 10 per cent having significant vision loss, the need for more research and better strategies to prevent children’s eye injuries was highlighted.
Orthoptics Australia Scientific Conference
Orthoptics Australia’s annual scientific conference was hosted concurrently at the convention centre, providing an excellent opportunity for eye health professionals to move between sessions. A number of novel approaches to the program were adopted including a minimal carbon footprint for delegates with conference proceedings being provided electronically and no satchels given to delegates. A symposium on challenges in paediatric ophthalmology provided an opportunity for experts, including prominent Sydney ophthalmologist Dr. Frank Martin, to provide advice in an entertaining game show format.
The congress dinner was held at the historic and picturesque Hillstone, in St Lucia. Singing waiters entertained the audience. This proved to be an appropriate introduction to 2015’s congress with Dr. Keith Small and Dr. Alistair Papili’i-Curtin taking the opportunity to provide a delightful musical invitation to join them in Wellington this year. It was an exciting appetiser to what we can expect for this year’s congress.
Dr. Bradley Horsburgh Appointed President
Dr. Bradley Horsburgh was announced as the new President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) at the RANZCO 46th Annual Scientific Congress in November. Dr. Horsburgh replaced Dr. Stephen Best, who served in the role since 2012.
Dr. Horsburgh said the two-year appointment was an honour but came with many challenges that would be approached “from the prism of ‘for the next generation’ of both patients and ophthalmologists”.
In his inaugural speech as president, he said, “It is not often in adult life that one is given the opportunity to front a leadership team and effect change. The RANZCO presidency is such an opportunity.
“The educational, legislative and economic risks for the medical profession over the next 5 –10 years will be unprecedented. Together with the board and College fellowship, I look forward to leading RANZCO to continue to both maintain and enhance our position as the leaders in eye-care.”
A Queensland born ophthalmologist, Dr. Horsburgh has previously held various roles in the college including: Secretary, Treasurer and Chair of the Queensland Branch, Federal Council member since 2006, and Federal Board member since 2010, serving three years as Treasurer and two years as Vice President. He served as the President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists, during the cataract dispute in 2009.
Dr. Horsburgh thanked outgoing president Dr. Stephen Best for 12 years of commitment to RANZCO, including two years as president. He said at all times Dr. Best’s primary focus had been for the good of the patient.