Friday, September 19, 2014

SIT BACK, RELAX, ENJOY THE SHOW AND SEE YOU NEXT YEAR



                                         by Leigh Spielberg

A large conference is sort of like the Olympic Village that’s always built in the Olympics’ host city. 

It contains a collection of like-minded individuals which,when the hotels are included, are separated from the rest of the population, separated from friends and family, essentially separated from the rest of the world.

There are shiny facilities, food & drinks and support staff for the doctors, who are only expected to expend their energies on ophthalmology and nothing else.

People come from all over the world and do so voluntarily. They give their best performance, one for which they have worked long and hard to perfect.

This year’s London multi-conference was quite a bit larger than the 2014 Olympic Village in Sochi. With more than 14,000 delegates attending EURETINA, ESCRS, EUCORNEA, the WSPOS sub-specialty day and ESCRS  Glaucoma Day,  it was nearly twice as large as Sochi’s village, which was attended by “only” 6,000 athletes.

Fortunately, we as ophthalmologists can continue doing what we do until longafter the current crop of Olympic athletes have retired, so I think we have the better end of this comparison.

Real life

I occasionally find it somewhat tricky to return to “real life” after being away from home for a while, whether I’ve been on vacation or at a conference. 

It’s not only the foreign environment, the unusual daily activities and the removal  from all that is familiar makes for an occasionally awkward transition back to normalcy. 

It is also, and primarily, the total immersion into the world of
ophthalmology that takes a day or two to snap out of.

However, it all pays off when I return to the clinic and begin to apply the things I have learned over the past few days. 

Colleagues are interested in hearing about what I heard, new discussions are initiated and vague plans are made to attend
next year, not only to step out of the clinic routine for a few days but to have time to focus on thinking about ophthalmology and learning what others have discovered, rather than simply doing what one already knows.

In my opinion, technological advances have brought about the biggest changes between recent conferences and those of the past. 

The ESCRS and EURETINA conference apps made it quite a bit easier this year to navigate the sessions. WhatsApp has made it simple to find colleagues and friends without paying exorbitant roaming fees for text messages.

The vibe at a conference this big is one of great energy. Most of that energy is good: “Great, I’m going to an interesting session. So nice to see you again, when was the last time, three years ago? How is your practice going?”

But some of it is nervous energy: “I’m late! I forgot to plan ahead and now I’m missing all the best sessions! I’m worried about my presentation! I hope they don’t ask me too many difficult questions!”

Ach, sit back, relax and enjoy the show. See you next year!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A BEAUTIFUL VISION





For many patients a hospital clinic can be a cold forbidding place. But this doesn't always have to be the case.

In the June Cover Story of EuroTimes, our Contributing Editor Howard Larkin , who is based in Chicago, interviewed a number of ophthalmologists and architects in the US and Europe.

They have decided that as the patient is the customer, and not the doctor, their clinics should be designed to make their patients comfortable and to alleviate their anxieties.

The spectacular image above is the exterior of the the seven-story Eye Tower of the University Eye Clinic Maastricht in The Netherlands. The Eye Tower has drawn rave reviews from patients, doctors, researchers and students alike, says Rudy MMA Nuijts MD, PhD, who heads the cornea service and refractive surgery at the  clinic, and Carroll Webers, MD, PhD, chairman of the department. Its sleek fa├žade and welcoming interior also have been celebrated in high-profile architecture and art digests.

Most important, the University Eye Clinic Maastricht is enabling a steady increase in patient and procedure volume, they said. With the ageing of the population the department expects more demand for everything from diabetes and age-related retinal services to glaucoma, cornea, cataract and refractive procedures, not to mention routine primary eye care.

Clinic volume already exceeds the capacity of the department’s previous cramped quarters, and is on track to achieve a major increase over the next few years, they said. Most patients are still from The Netherlands, but they expect cross-border business may pick up as demand grows.

*Read the full story at http://www.eurotimes.org/cover-news.asp?id=3589 and see the image gallery at http://www.eurotimes.org/gallery.asp?id=72157635068524134

  Dr Nuijts and Dr Webers will be talking about their clinic at the ESCRS Practice Development Programme on Sunday 6 October at the XXXI Congress of the ESCRS in Amsterdam, Holland.
See http://www.escrs.org/amsterdam2013/programme/practice-development.asp

Saturday, June 8, 2013

WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN

“Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
'Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down”

For those delegates old enough to remember, the city of Copenhagen has been immortalised in Danny Kaye’s song from the 1952 musical“Hans Christian Anderson”.

It’s a beautiful song and it captures the spirit of this wonderful city, the venue for the 2013 European Society of Ophthalmology Congress.

As SOE president Stefan Seregard points out this year’s Congress presents an excellent scientific programme in close collaboration with the European subspecialty, research and educational organisations in ophthalmology.

An outstanding set of invited speakers, including internationally renowned keynote lecturers Roger Hitchings, Tony Moore and Greg Hageman will address pertinent issues and update delegates on the current approaches to clinical problems.

The SOE Congress continues to grow in popularity and this year’s meeting has representatives from 96 different countries.  

 EuroTimes, the official news magazine of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, is produci ng a newspaper capturing  the meeting highlights on Sunday June 9 and Monday June 10.

 The newspaper is free to all delegates and will be distributed at the Bella  Centre. You can also see the latest breaking news from the meeting at www.eurotimes.org


Monday, May 13, 2013

GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR CHRIS






By Colin Kerr, Executive Editor, EuroTimes


If you were a teenager growing up in the 1960’s, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, released in 1969, would have been part of the soundtrack of your life.

Space travel defined that decade in the same way that the internet defines the times we live in today.


I’d recommend that anyone who loves m music and literature should listen carefully to Bowie’s lyrics and then read “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe, one of the great American novels about the pioneers who put man on the moon (also listen to “Man on the Moon “by REM for a more whimsical insight into the great adventure ).

It started on April 12, 1961 when Yuriy Gagarin, an army major in the Soviet Union remained in orbit for 1 hour and 48 minutes, proving that human beings can survive in space.
http://www.spacechronology.com/1960s.html#ixzz2TA3bOjQJ

For most children and young boys of my generation, the pinnacle of the space age was reached on July 16, 1969 when the American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin safely landed on the moon, while Michael Collins orbited around it. Their space ship Apollo 11 spent 21 hours and 31 minutes on its surface and returned safely back to Earth.


So where do we go from here?  Commander Chris Hadfield has posted a cover version of Space Oddity, recorded 230 miles above the earth on his last day in charge of the international space station.


Only the great, great songs can bring tears to your eyes, and Hadfield’s version of the Bowie classic is one of them.


The lyrics have been reworked slightly but Hadfield has stayed true to the original and made it even better with a really stunning video.


Welcome home Chris, on behalf of all the ophthalmologists in the world who dare to go where no man or woman has gone before.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

THE WHOLE EARTH CATALOGUE

By Colin Kerr, Executive Editor, EuroTimes

I keep returning to The Observer newspaper to read some of the best and incisive writing in the English language.

The cover story in the paper's review section looks at The Whole Earth Catalog and the visionary work of Stewart Brand.

The article features an interview with Brand by Carole Cadwallader whose breathtaking range of ideas has influenced generations of scientists, futurists, architects, storytellers, photographers, inventors and inventors including Steve Jobs.

Brand is now 74 but as Cadwallader points out he is still fit and active and brimming over with new ideas and insights into the way the world has changed and is changing.

Read the full interview at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/05/stewart-brand-whole-earth-catalog

ARE UNIVERSITY LECTURES DOOMED?






Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, recently suggested that online courses herald the end of traditional lectures.


In an excellent article in The Observer newspaper, Philip Henshaw, novelist and professor of creative writing at the University of Bath-Spa, UK and John Mullan, writer and professor of English at University College London, went head to head and argued the case for and against.


Henshaw argues: "Since I took to lecturing myself, I generally approached it as cabaret. You and I have stood together and yammered in front of silent audiences of sighing Germans. Since nobody much walked out, we believed ourselves to be extraordinarily fascinating. This discovery for academics is thrilling, and so there is an incentive to hang on to the hour-long lecture. But, realistically, if one wanted to teach anyone anything, I think one should make them participate, interrupt, ask questions, disagree, talk back, and that's the alternative route I've taken. There are probably a dozen lecturers  in this country so brilliant you don't want to do anything but listen to them for an hour. The rest of them should approach learning as an exchange with students."


According to Mullan, this approach is flawed. "Participation, interruption, disagreement – all those student responses you celebrate are virtuous, of course, so you have class or seminar teaching, where they are part of the deal. But sometimes the students want to know what the academic knows," he says.


"Learning shouldn't all be exchanging thoughts with students (and in the sciences and quantitative subjects it often cannot be this). The students can find it frustrating (as they tell us) when they have to spend their time listening to the least informed but most opinionated fellow student in the room."




So does this logic apply for ophthalmology students? I'd welcome your comments so let me know your views.


Colin Kerr



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Social Media - You Can't Have It All





Colin Kerr


Executive Editor, EuroTimes



I've just returned from the Media Future conference in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, where I hoped to finally unlock the Pandora's Box that holds the answers to my quest for a Social and Digital Media strategy.


 I've been working on this project for the last ten years and still haven't found what I'm looking for. But hope springs eternal and maybe today is the day I will discover my inner New Media Guru.


 Of course, it isn't as easy as that. I met a colleague from a former life yesterday and asked him what he was doing, meaning what line of work he was in. 'I'm just trying to find what this stuff is all about," he replied.


 By 'this stuff' he meant New Media. Like me, he is a dinosaur of the golden age of newspapers and magazines when journalists pounded the keys of their manual typewriter, erased their mistakes with Tippex and kept copies of their articles with carbon sheets imposed on a second sheet of paper.



We carried out our research in a tiny little room known as The Librarybwhere we would spend hours poring over old newspaper cuttings neatly filed in small cardboard folders.


 Thank heaven for Google and the other search engines that have reduced the research timespan from hours to minutes. Thanks also to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the other visionaries who have developed the new technologies that have opened up a brave new media world.


 And hopefully today I too will find what all this "stuff" is about.