Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Aberrations provide important cues for accommodation

Natural accommodation is a dynamic process that is aided by aberrations that give the eye cues as to which direction to focus, Ioannis G Pallikaris MD, PhD told attendees of the innovator session at the 2009 ASCRS annual meeting held at the Moscone Centre (pictured above) in San Francisco, US.

“Aberrations are necessary to guide accommodation,” Dr Pallikaris said. The defocus images of lenses without aberrations are identical whether they are over or under corrected, where as they are different in a lens with aberrations, he explained. Astigmatic, higher order, spherical and chromatic aberrations all play a role.

In patients with presbyopia, accommodation is slower and less stable than in younger patients. This leads to fatigue in older patients and the image on the retina is rapidly and constantly changing, particularly in near vision. This constantly changes the refractive qualities and aberrations in the lens.

Presbyopic correction with multifocal or accommodative lenses is a static compromise that cannot duplicate this process, Dr Pallikaris noted. It results in acceptable distance and near visual acuity at the expense of vision quality. “Achieving super vision is not a goal,” he said. Ophthalmologists must use their understanding and judgement to make the lens choice that best meets patient needs.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Patrick Condon receives Honoured Guest award from ASCRS

ESCRS founding member and former Board member Patrick I Condon MD, Waterford, Ireland, was recognised today for his life-long contributions to the profession with an Honoured Guest award at the ASCRS opening ceremony. “He is noted for his contributions to anterior segment binocular surgery,” said Alan S Crandall MD, Salt Lake City, Utah, US, incoming ASCRS president.

“My wife and I thank you so much,” said Dr Condon. He also thanked the ASCRS for its participation in the annual ESCRS-ASCRS joint forum, which is always a source of lively debate and differing opinions over current ophthalmic surgery controversies. Following the ceremony Dr Condon departed the stage to tickle the ivories with his jazz band, Paddy Condon and the White Stars, for the enjoyment of all outside the exhibition hall.

Also honoured was Endre A Balazs MD, originally from Budapest, who was inducted into the ASCRS Hall of Fame for his groundbreaking work in identifying the chemistry of the vitreous body, leading to the development of viscoelastics.

MEACO delegates get ready for Barcelona

The ESCRS booth in the exhibition centre at Manama, Bahrain saw plenty of traffic during the 10th MEACO Congress.

Pictured above is Rachel Wiseman who was busy fielding enquiries from delegates who are looking forward to attending the XXVII ESCRS Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

For further information on Barcelona and all other ESCRS activities, visit the ESCRS website at

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coordinated effort needed to fight blindness

A major coordinated effort is needed to tackle the underlying causes of blindness in children, particularly in poorer and underdeveloped regions where the needs are greatest, according to a leading expert in the field.

Prof Clare Gilbert, International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told delegates attending the MEACO Congress that blindness in children is a major, lifelong problem in every part of the world, impacting not just the affected children, but also their families, their communities and countries.

“It is the greatest problem where resources are least,” said Dr Gilbert, who said that WHO statistics show that there are about 1.4 million blind children in the world.

“When we consider that the total figure for adult blindness is 45 million, this figure looks like a very small number. But one has to bear in mind that these children have a lifetime of blindness ahead of them.”

Dr Gilbert said that successive studies have demonstrated the clear link between childhood blindness and poverty.

“More than 70 per cent of these blind children live in poor and very poor countries and there are two principal reasons for this: first, the population of children in poorer regions is much higher, and secondly, the prevalence of blindness in children in these countries is also much higher,” she said.

She noted that the available evidence seems to suggest that the majority of these 1.4million children are either born blind or become blind before six years of age.

“This tells us that in terms of controlling childhood blindness that we really need to focus our efforts and resources on children aged zero to five,” she said.

Record attendance at 10th MEACO Congress

Ophthalmologists from around the world gathered in Manama, Bahrain for the 10th International Congress of the Middle East African Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO).

The congress was officially opened by Dr Faisal bin Yacoob Alhamer, Minister of Health of the Kingdom of Bahrain, who said his country was very proud and gratified to be hosting such a prestigious international meeting and he looked forward to similar fruitful cooperation with MEACO in the future.

The chairman of the MEACO Board, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Ahmed Al Saud, welcomed the assembled delegates to the Kingdom of Bahrain and expressed his belief that the five-day meeting would prove a fruitful and informative forum for the international ophthalmic community. He noted that with almost 3,000 delegates registered for this year’s meeting, the congress continues to go from strength to strength.

Next to address the delegates was Dr Abdulaziz AlRajhi, president of MEACO (pictured above) who stressed the importance of forging partnerships both regionally and internationally in pursuit of excellence. He highlighted the strong collaboration between MEACO and associations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS).

“Our aim is to bring the best that the world has to offer to our members in the region in order to expand their knowledge and experience and contribute to the advancement of eye care services in the Middle East and Africa,” he said.

After thanking the local organisers and all of the generous sponsors for their continuing support for MEACO, Dr AlRajhi concluded his speech by stressing that actions, not words, are the true hallmark of achievement.

“Napoloeon Bonaparte once said that if you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything and deliver nothing. But in MEACO we like to say that people may doubt what we say, but they will believe what we do,” he said.

Bruce Spivey MD, president of the ICO, then addressed the assembly.

Stressing the strong bonds that have been built up over the years between the ICO and MEACO, he said that such cross-currents underscore the vitality of a discipline such as ophthalmology.

“We have all, as never before, borne witness to the dynamic relationships of the social and economic realities of the present-day world. The ICO is apolitical by conscious decision and behaviour. This meeting in Bahrain, a place inhabitated since ancient times and a crossroads to many cultures, is a wondeful reflection of the beauty and cosmopolitan nature of this region,” he said.

Dr Michael Brennan, speaking on behalf of the AAO, said that MEACO is perpetuating the proud tradition of the Gulf region and Mesopotamia as the crucible of medical science.

“This tradition continues as MEACO, and its forerunner PAACO, celebrates 20 years of providing the infrastructure for ophthalmologists to assemble to share knowledge and skill. More distinctively over recent years, MEACO has expanded its range of services and value to members and affiliate organisations in a variety of ways,” he said.

In addressing the communication challenges of globalisation and the technological revolution, Dr Brennan saluted MEACO’s efforts to collaborate with the AAO and the ICO in introducing a variety of international educational and informational content to its members.

Concluding the opening ceremony, Dr Ebtisam Al Alawi, chairperson of the Local Organizing Committee, said that the number of participants registered for the 2009 MEACO Congress, estimated in excess of 2,000 delegates, had surpassed all expecations.

“The meeting continues to evolve and develop. This distinguished gathering allows us to share experiences and exchange knowledge regarding the latest advances in ophthalmology and covers all the subspecialties of ophthalmology including epidemiology and prevention of blindness. I am very pleased to see delegates representing countries from all over the world, which shows how truly international this meeting has become,” she said.