The World Ophthalmology Conference (WOC) is back! One of the most important events of the ophthalmological calendar, anticipation was high for WOC — and it got off to a roaring start. There were controversies in cataracts, artificial intelligence technologies, and some of the most Oscar-worthy surgical footage around with Media MICE covering the whole event LIVE as the Media Partner for WOC.
Naturally, nothing could beat the allure of attending the 37th WOC in person in Cape Town, one of the most stunning cities in the world. No doubt the waves rolling along the city’s coast were taken as inspiration for the conference’s deep blue stage, which was one of the highest quality productions of this year’s online events. The online theater even came with a “mini master of ceremonies” who kicked off proceedings by introducing the President of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), Prof. Dr. Peter Wiedemann.
Prof. Dr. Wiedemann welcomed the conference’s participants and spoke of how the WOC represented the crossroads at which ophthalmology currently stands. The conference is both traditional with its excellent scientific program, but also forward-thinking as it embraces technology to go fully online.
“The ICO has a long legacy of bringing the world together and this virtual 37th WOC proudly adds a new milestone to the history of the longest running speciality medical congress in the world,” said Prof. Dr. Wiedemann.
“Our ancestors wanted to establish and preserve cooperation between nations in the interest of ophthalmology. To maintain the unity of ophthalmology and for mutual friendship, we organized this first virtual meeting,” he added.
More than 6,400 ophthalmologists are registered to participate in WOC2020 VirtualⓇ, representing over 150 countries. All in all, 180 national and subspecialty societies will participate in scientific sessions on the latest advances, innovations and best practices in ophthalmology. The program includes more than 1,200 internationally acclaimed speakers, 130 live talks and panels, and 110 on-demand talks that will continue to be available over a three-month period.
The internationalism Prof. Dr. Wiedemann alluded to was a notable theme of the first day of WOC2020 VirtualⓇ. Many of the online seminars examined issues with broad applicability and importance throughout the whole ophthalmology community. It was also a theme the PIE and CAKE teams at Media MICE took to heart as we began broadcasting to the world.
DJ Bananaman Mouse in the House!
Media MICE launched its first ever on-air studio to coincide with the launch of WOC2020 VirtualⓇ. Led by the funk-tancular DJ Bananaman Mouse (CEO and Publisher Matt Young) and MC Edits (Editor Brooke Heron), the radio show will be broadcasting at WOC2020 VirtualⓇ and around the world from its base in Southeast Asia. It’s ophthalmological insight will only be matched by its fabulous fashion (which we urge you to check out).
Callers have already flocked to Media MICE’s airwaves to share their views on the WOC2020 VirtualⓇ conference and ophthalmology in general. The first question the show was the most prescient: what’s changed the most in ophthalmology since the coronavirus pandemic began? The consensus was that telemedicine is now big bananas, perspex screens and PPE are more important than ever, and patient-doctor relationships are going to change forever.
“We’re forever changed as a speciality, as a society, and that’s okay,” said one of the callers, Dr. Laura Periman from Seattle, Washington.“There’s an opportunity to do things even better, more differently than before.” Our sentiments exactly, kudos to Dr. Periman.
Media MICE will feature a number of topics for discussion during WOC2020 VirtualⓇ and beyond. We’ve already downloaded two discussions from the airwaves to paper, the first focusing on important topics in vitreoretina was published in PIE magazine. The second discussion was published in CAKE magazine and featured a broader discussion on crucial industry issues, starring the aforementioned Dr. Periman and a number of other ophthalmologists from around the world.
Country Fungi, 10k Cutters and the AI Revolution
It wouldn’t be a WOC conference without some super seminars. One example was the session titled, Diagnosis and Treatment of Corneal Infection, which has a particular focus on keratitis. Led by distinguished Japanese ophthalmologist Prof. Shigeru Kinoshita, the seminar offered engrossing insight into the various forms of keratitis and its geographical spread.
We learned that risk factors for keratitis can vary wildly by geography — for example, in Singapore more than half of the cases are related to contact lenses; whereas in South Korea, the plurality risk factor is previous ocular surgery. The microorganism make-up of the condition differs by country too: In China and India, fungi are most common, whereas in Singapore and Thailand, gram-negative microorganisms are most prevalent. It really adds to that old maxim, microorganisms are the spice of life.
One of the spiciest developments in ophthalmology right now is virtual reality (VR) technology. VR has fantastic applications in a variety of surgical treatments and gives surgeons the ability to go into incredible detail. Several doctors presented their experience using VR-enabled tools during the Cutting-Edge VR Technologies: My Real Life Experience seminar.
Dr. Jean-Antoine Pournaras spoke about his experience of using Alcon’s SHARKSKIN™ ILM forceps in vitreoretinal surgery. The tool allows the user to peel the eye’s membrane incredibly delicately and Dr. Pournaras provided video examples of his work. Dr. Khalid Al Sabti, calling in from Kuwait, provided excellent footage of his retinal detachment surgeries and described how he used a VR empowered 10k cutter during each of them.
The live session on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Medical Retina continued the theme of advanced technology. AI is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting frontiers in ophthalmology and it is being used in an increasingly wide array of situations. Combining telemedicine and AI was showcased as an example, with the Oculus VR headset for AMD proving to be particularly popular with the seminar’s viewers.
To a certain degree AI combines art and science according to Dr. Michael Chiang, the seminar’s first presenter. The coronavirus will continue to drive its development, he said, adding that while AI will improve diagnoses, patient management will rely on the human touch more than ever.
The human touch is something that we all miss but if the first day is anything to go by, then the rest of the WOC2020 VirtualⓇ conference is going to be great. Stay tuned as the Media MICE team keeps you updated on all the latest ophthalmological developments, and don’t forget to tune in to our radio show. Until tomorrow!