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. 

Friday, April 27, 2012


Major honour for former programme chairman of ESCRS

By Howard Larkin in Chicago 

In recognition of his prominent role advancing cataract and refractive surgery in Sweden and Europe, incoming ASCRS President David Chang MD welcomed Bo T Philipson MD PhD, Stockholm, Sweden, as an honored guest at this year’s ASCRS Symposium.

“Dr Philipson also played a key role in development of the first OVD as well as heparin-coated IOLs, and the Technis diffractive multifocal IOL,” Dr Chang said.

Dr Chang also noted Dr Philipson’s service as a leader, founder and programme chair of the ESCRS, his extensive lecturing and surgery in more than 20 countries, his leadership of the ophthalmology department at Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institute and his founding of the Ă–gonklinik, now Sweden’s largest private eye clinic. “He has educated a generation of Swedish cataract surgeons and led the efforts to adopt phaco emulsification, intraocular lens implantation and corneal refractive surgery in his home country.”

Accepting the honor, Dr Philipson expressed his gratitude for the opportunities he had to improve ocular surgery and those who supported his efforts. “I am very fortunate to be of the group to have experienced the evolution of cataract and refractive surgery from intracapsular surgery to the modern very advanced surgery. It’s been very fascinating. This shift of surgical technique and the improvement of outcome have been made possible by the excellent teaching facilities that ASCRS and ESCRS have provided to us.”

Noting that he has attended almost all ESCRS and many ASCRS programs over the years, Dr Philipson thanked several American colleagues with whom he has studied and worked over the years, and whose ideas he shared in Europe. “Bob Sinskey was really my first mentor, and I visited him many, many times. Howard Fine was a fantastic teacher, and I had the possibility to work with and learn from Doug Koch, Steve Obstbaum and Dick Lindstrom. Jack Holladay and Jay McDonald, and I am very sorry we miss David Apple and Charlie Kelman. They taught us a lot.”


Jack Holladay inducted into ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame in emotional ceremony

By Howard Larkin in Chicago

Internationally known for his pioneering work in optics, including brightness acuity tester for assessing the impact of glare on vision and widely used IOL power calculation formulae, Jack T Holladay MD MSEE FACS, was inducted into ASCRS’ Ophthalmology Hall of Fame. In an emotional address to the opening session of the ASCRS Symposium, Dr Holladay thanked colleagues for their support following high-risk aortic surgery in 2010, and cited his teaching experiences as among the most rewarding of his life.

Dr Holladay has contributed immensely to improving the understanding of optics in ophthalmology, including glare testing, interpretation of corneal topography and the nature of astigmatism, said Douglas Koch MD, Houston, US. His IOL consultant power calculation software that takes into account factors such as corneal transplants and refractive surgery have improved vision outcomes for cataract patients around the world.

Dr Holladay spoke from the perspective of one who came close to death. His operation to correct an aortic aneurysm involved lowering his body temperature enough for him to survive cutting off blood flow to his brain for about 20 minutes during the procedure, followed by an eight-day coma, he said.

“I had a one in 10,000 chance of survival. The intensive cardiologist just happened to be walking down the hall and the only surgeon in Houston who could do the procedure was doing heart surgery upstairs,” said Dr Holladay. Though he is still a Clinical Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, he no longer sees patients. Holding back tears, he haltingly recounted the support he received from his family during his eight-day coma, and the hundreds of messages from colleagues and students around the world.

“After 37 years in ophthalmology I had to retire because I wasn’t quite the same after the operation. Looking back, the things I think about are not the patents, not the papers, none of those things, really. It’s the teaching,” Dr Holladay said. In 40 years of teaching, as an engineer before he completed his medical training and as a physician, Dr Holladay estimates he has taught more than 10,000 ophthalmologists in optics.

Dr Holladay added: “I wanted to create for them the same excitement I had about the optics of the eye that is such a miracle; get them to understand this miraculous device that allows us to interact with the world. Every day we perform a miracle on patients by restoring their vision. Within a few hours they can go from complete blindness to vision that is almost perfect. Most important, I am grateful for all the friends I have around the world in ophthalmology. I say to you thank you, thank you so much.”

Embracing Dr Holladay at the podium, ASCRS Foundation Chair Richard Lindstrom MD, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, shared the warm feelings Dr Holladay expressed. “He is a friend, colleague and a true giant in the field. His tenacity, commitment and sheer brilliance have given us some of the greatest advances in all of ophthalmology.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A new dawn for ophthalmology in the Middle East and North Africa

"This region (the Middle East and North Africa) is the cradle of civilisation as well as the origin of  mankind. It is here that human civilisation started 6,000 years ago."

With these words Dr Adbulaziz Al Rahji sent out a message to the 10,000 delegates from 136 countries attending the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 in Abu Dhabi, that ophthalmology has to look to a global audience if it is to develop.

This is the first time that the WOC had visited the MENA region and Dr Al Rahji and his colleagues will be hoping that it will not be too long before it returns.

At a spectacular opening ceremony in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Dr Al Rahji, said that ophthalmogists in the region had a past that they were proud of and a bright future that had brought them to WOC 2012.

They had come together to focus on science, he said, and to work together to improve the quality of life of their patients. Many individuals, he said, had worked together to make sure that the delegates attending the Congress would leave the meeting with greater scientific knowledge and a positive cultural experience.

EuroTimes talked to Dr Al Rahji, president of WOC 2012, on the day before the close of the meeting on Monday February 20 and he said that the feedback that they had received from delegates had been very positive. "We are happy that we managed to provide a high quality scientific programme with a good meeting facility, " he said. "One of our main aims was to give delegates a flavour of the culture of the region, so the congress has been scientifically enriching and also socially rewarding."

As one congress ends, the work begins on another. The venue for WOC 2014 is Tokyo, Japan.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Prague hosts 16th ESCRS Winter Meeting

The 16th ESCRS Winter Meeting in Prague hasd continued the improvements made in both the format and content of the recent meetings held in Budapest in 2010 and Istanbul in 2011.

“The first winter meetings held in the late 1990s were almost entirely dedicated to refractive surgery,” he said, “and the main autumn meeting was predominantly a cataract meeting. In recent years, the thrust of the winter meeting has evolved and I think it has evolved very much for the better,” said ESCRS President Dr Peter Barry.

Dr Barry (pictured above with Pavel Studeny, the ESCRS Board member from the Czech Republic pointed out that the society had made a commitment to hold the winter meetings in emerging European countries that in the past might not have had the opportunity to host major international meetings. “The winter meeting now has a similar format to the main summer meeting in terms of symposia, free papers, instructional courses and wet labs,” he said. “It might be somewhat more didactic than the main meeting but it also has innovative components similar to our main meeting.”

Dr Barry said the ESCRS was also very grateful that the international industry had continued to support the winter meeting to ensure that there was a lively trade exhibition at the meeting.

“The meeting is becoming more important in its own right,” he said, “and it is providing excellent opportunities for local ophthalmologists for practising and training. We  also introduced lower registration fees for delegates from the countries close to Prague so that it is more economic and convenient for them to attend the meeting.”

An indication of the success of this initiative is the fact that more than 100 delegates from the Czech Republic  attended this year's meeting in Prague, compared to seven  attendees from that country  in 2011.