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HomemieventsARVO-Asia Comes to Australia

ARVO-Asia Comes to Australia

ARVO is the leading eye and vision research meeting in the world. ARVO held their biennial Asia meeting, ARVO-Asia 2017, for the first time in Australia, in Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre from 4-8 February.

ARVO-Asia brought together over 1,000 clinical researchers from over 30 countries, who explored cutting-edge science through posters, papers, symposia, lectures and special interest group sessions. Around 650 delegates attended over 200 lectures in six simultaneous streams, covering almost every facet of the eye.

The meeting was opened by ARVO-Asia chair, Professor Mark Radford and Deputy Premier Hon. Jacki Trad MP, followed by a moving ‘Welcome to Country’ performance from the Nunukul Yuggera tribe. Prof. Radford remarked that despite the meeting being focused on the Asia region, it was interesting to note that there were significant numbers of delegates and presenters from the US and Europe.

Bridging Disciplines and Disparities

The theme for this year’s ARVO-Asia meeting was, ‘Bridging disciplines and disparities: Connecting eye research with health outcomes’. This theme is timely and important to ensure that eye care research translates into effective prevention, diagnosis and treatments for patients with eye disease all over the world. In an age of expanding public health needs and tightening resources it is imperative that collaboration occurs across research disciplines, nations, labs and clinics.

The next ARVO-Asia will take place in Seoul, South Korea in 2019

The Gender Gap

Prof. Robyn Ward presented the opening plenary lecture ‘Bridging the gender gap in research and clinical care’. Prof. Ward discussed how although we have come a long way in 35 years, more work needed to be done in this area. Prof. Ward discussed some of the issues and perceptions of women in research and clinical care and how we must continue to bridge the gap.

Some Highlights from the Papers

The ARVO-Asia sessions broadly covered stem cells, the cornea, myopia, contact lenses, and other structures and aspects of the eye. Light and its constituent frequencies, through the dynamic and complex tear film were also covered in depth.

Dry Eye

Dr. Laura Downie presented a paper on Modulation of tear osmolarity and corneal nerve parameters in dry eye disease with omega-3 fatty acids. This proof-of-concept clinical trial showed that a three-month supplementation period with a moderate dose of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (1000mg EPA + 500mg DHA per day), in people with moderate dry eye disease, enhanced the quality of the tear film. It was also associated with improvements in the integrity of the nerves that provide sensation to the cornea. These promising findings suggest that the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for patients with dry eye disease could extend beyond their known anti-inflammatory properties to also involve corneal neuroprotective effects.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Mr. Daniel Tilia, of Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, presented a paper on The relationship between subjective ratings and willingness to purchase multifocal contact lenses. This study looked at the relationship between subjective ratings and willingness to purchase multifocal contact lenses and found that for every one point increase in subjective ratings, willingness to purchase increased between 10-20 per cent. The study also found overall vision satisfaction and vision stability have the greatest influence on willingness to purchase multifocal contact lenses.

Tear Film Stability

Also of signigificant interest was, Dr. Thomas Millar’s presentation on, Viewing the spread and stability of the tear film in real time. Dr. Millar showed that viewing the tear film using novel Infrared technology was relatively inexpensive, fast and non-invasive. He claimed 100 per cent accuracy in diagnosing and categorising dry eye, with immediate visualisation of the effect of eye drops and demonstrated different patterns of ‘breakup’.


Despite the advantages of completing online CPD, one of the major benefits of attending conferences in person is the ability to interact with colleagues. Many valuable discussions take place while friendships develop and are renewed. The potential for future collaboration also occurs.

The ability to investigate and test-drive the latest instruments is another important facet of trade fairs and conferences and there was interesting discussion and interaction between delegates, industry sponsors and exhibitors. The latest drugs, treatment regimens and studies relating to CNV, AMD, DME and dry eye, among other things, were also featured on the exhibitors’ stands and in
lunchtime seminars.

It was great to be able to attend an ARVO meeting in our region, particularly because the cost of attending ARVO in the USA can be prohibitive for some delegates from Australia.

The next ARVO-Asia will take place in Seoul, South Korea in 2019. For more information on ARVO-Asia visit: www.arvo.org/arvo-asia/

Myopia Update

Myopia was a significant focus of ARVO-Asia with several presentations dedicated to the topic.

Prof. Kathryn Rose, University of Technology Sydney, led the first session on myopia, reviewing the scientific evidence relating to environmental factors implicated in the rise of myopia prevalence. Prof. Rose reported that although the exact mechanism driving the effect remains unclear, levels of educational attainment have been consistently associated with a rise in myopia prevalence.

Time spent outdoors has been shown to have a relative protective effect against myopia. Such factors should therefore be considered in the context of a public health approach to the management of myopia in children. Also on the topic of myopia, Prof. Ian Morgan, Australian National University, Canberra described myopia as ‘a social disease’. His paper, A new epidemic of acquired high myopia, discussed how myopia was sensitive to societal factors, including the economy and educational system.

Prof. Morgan also discussed the concept of ‘acquired’ high myopia. That is, high myopia that develops as an inevitable consequence of the epidemic of myopia and due to the natural progression of early-onset myopia. He described this form of high myopia to be potentially different to the ‘classical’ form that was considered predominantly genetic in origin. Prof. Morgan raised an important question with regard to whether ‘acquired’ high myopia carries the same burden of pathology as ‘classical’ high myopia and highlighted the need for detailed longitudinal studies to provide more definitive answers.

Prof. Paul Baird, Centre for Eye Research, Melbourne presented a paper on the genetic influences in myopia. He discussed the inherent complexity of myopia genetic studies and some of the limitations of the published literature. Prof. Baird concluded that different genes are likely to be involved in different aspects of myopia, including its development, the degree of refractive error and the rate of myopia progression.

Prof. Seang-Mei Saw, National University of Singapore, presented on myopia in children. Her paper, The development of the FitSight fitness tracker to increase time spent outdoors and prevent myopia in children, presented some of her latest research, relating to the development of a novel wearable fitness tracker for children, to quantify the amount of time spent outdoors and to evaluate daily light exposure. The device was conceptualised to encourage children to increase the time they spend outside, with a daily target of three hours per day of outdoor time. This allows parents to monitor their child’s level of outdoor exposure with a companion smartphone application. Prof. Saw reported that initial feedback from parents was positive, with further research being undertaken to optimise the device and its application.

A/Prof Scott Read from Queensland University of Technology presented his research comparing macular retinal layer thickness in myopic and non-myopic children. He reported that while the total retinal and individual retinal layer thicknesses were similar between groups, myopia was associated with a small degree of retinal thinning (a maximum mean difference of 5.9 µm) in the parafovea and/or perifovea. He concluded that subtle redistributions of the retinal tissue layers appear to accompany myopia in childhood.

A/Prof. Audrey Chia, Singapore National Eye Centre concluded the session with a clinically focussed presentation. In Atropine treatment of myopia – clinical implications, she summarised key clinical trials relating to the use of atropine eye drops for modulating childhood myopia progression, with a particular focus on the Atropine for treatment of myopia (ATOM) studies, for which she was lead author.

The potential application of using high versus low dose atropine, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of both modes of treatment were discussed. A/Prof. Chia advised clinicians to be mindful of the potential ‘rebound’ effect of high-dose atropine, particularly in younger myopic children.

Dr. Laura Downie, BOptom, PhD, FAAO, is an Optometrist, Clinician Scientist and Senior Lecturer at The University of Melbourne. She has established an international reputation as a leading clinical researcher with a strong research record supporting evidence-based practice. She was awarded an NHMRC Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship in 2015, and received the Irvin M. Borish Award from the American Academy of Optometry in 2014, an international award that recognises an outstanding young clinician scientist.

Poster Session Highlights from ARVO-Asia

  • Dr. Xiangtian Zhou and colleagues’ poster Bright light suppresses form-deprivation myopia development with activation of dopamine D1 receptor signalling in the ON pathway in retina was consistent with other studies and showed that some bright light exposure does seem to slow myopia progression and axial length elongation in a mouse model of form deprivation myopia.
  • Dr. Varun Chandra et al., in their poster The Handheld laser pointer – more than meets the eye, showed that retinal damage can occur from hand held laser-pointers (even from reflected beams). Laser pointers available in Australia and from online sources can have up to 130x the legal output. Optical coherence tomography evidence of the harm done, with significant loss of vision – even from very brief retinal exposure – was demonstrated in a few case reports.
  • Dr. Wing Yan Yu et al’s poster, Selective blue-filtering lens protected cultured porcine primary retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells against photo-induced cell death mediated by reduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increased expression of antioxidant enzymes, presented data showing that short-wavelength LED light was cytotoxic to cultured RPE cells. Selective blue-light filters reduced this phototoxicity to the RPE cells caused by reactive oxygen species.
  • Brisbane’s Kate Gifford et al, presented their poster Near binocular vision in orthokeratology lens wearing children – a retrospective analysis. This study showed improved divergence, without affecting convergence, and an accompanying exophoric shift and reduction in accommodative lag. The authors suggested this may be part of the propensity for myopia control and potentially lead to improved visual comfort with orthokeratology correction.
  • Dr. Nicole Carnt et al, in Tear cytokine profiles in acanthamoeba keratitis presented some interesting information that showed an increase in cytokines in acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) and suggested that profiling cytokine levels in AK patients is viable and may aid clinical management.