Newsletter - Spring 1999, Volume 2, Number 1

Academia Meetings in Orlando

The Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (AOI) and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) are conducting a joint International Ophthalmology Strategic Plan conference in Orlando, Florida, USA on October 23, 1999.  The AOI Scientific Session, including the Business Meetings, is scheduled for the morning on October 24, and will be followed by the AOI Luncheon.

Meetings in Orlando are in conjunction with the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the XXII Congress of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) in orlando.  Subspecialty days are on October 23,-23.  Scientific sessions of the AAO and the PAAO are on October 24-27, 1999.  The exceptionally fine scientific program includes instruction courses, hands-on technology transfer labs, seminars and paper sessions covering 20 ophthalmic specialties.

There will be four joint sessions organized by the AAO and the PAAO on topics of refractive surgery, cataract, preservation of sight, and retinal vascular diseases.  As a highlight of the program on retinal vascular diseases, the Vth Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis Lecture "Toward Pharmaceutical and Gene Therapy for Retinal Degenerations" will be presented on October 27 by Prof. Mathew M. LaVail, University of California at San Francisco.

To capitalize on the opportunities for the collegial interaction in Orlando, Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom will be open only to AAO-PAAO attendees and their guests on the evening of Tuesday, October 26.  This is certain to be an enjoyable occasion for people of all ages.

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Vth International Congress of the Pan Arab African Council of Ophthalmology

The Sphinx stands guard over the pyramids at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.
The Sphinx stands guard over the pyramids at Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.
Dr. Gottfried O.H. Naumann, President of ICO (left), and Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma, President of AOI (right), conversing before they presented greetings at the PAACO Congress Opening Ceremony.
Dr. Gottfried O.H. Naumann, President of ICO (left), and Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma, President of AOI (right), conversing before they presented greetings at the PAACO Congress Opening Ceremony.

At the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Akef El Maghraby, President of PAACO, and Dr. Sayed Seif, President of EOS, presented warm words of welcome.  Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma, President of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (AOI), and Dr. Gottfried O. H. Naumann, President of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), presented greetings.  Additional comments were delivered by representatives of multinational ophthalmology organizations and Dr. Ismael Salam, Egyptian Minister of Health.  Distinctive in the program was a performance by the Al Noor Foundation Orchestra composed of exceptionally talented blind musicians.

The Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis  Symposium, in collaboration with the International Uveitis Study Group, on Diagnosis and Management of Uveitis and Ocular AIDS was presented on March 2, 1999.  The Symposium was organized by Dr. Rubens Belfort who spoke on “Toxoplasmosis and Herpetic Uveitis.”  Chairpersons were Dr. Gabriel Coscas, representing AOI, and Dr. Khalid Tabbara, representing the Uveitis Study Group.

Throughout the Congress, Special Lectures were presented.  Members of AOI participating in this series of distinctive presentations were Dr. Joaquín Barraquer, Dr. Paul Lichter and Dr. Gottfried O. H. Naumann.

The scientific events were enhanced by social interactions arranged through the cordial hospitality of Dr. and Mrs. Akef El Maghraby; Dr. Abdel Latif Siam, President of the Afro-Asian Society of Ophthalmology, and Mrs. Siam; and H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Regional Chairman of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

The next International Congress of the PAACO is planned in Beirut, Lebanon during 2001.  This international meeting will be in collaboration with the Lebanese Ophthalmological Society.

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International Prevention of Blindness Symposium

H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,
H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan Arab African Council of Ophthalmology (PAACO) co-sponsored a comprehensive International Prevention of Blindness Symposium in Cairo, Egypt, on March 1, 1999.  Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Regional Chairman of the IAPB, introduced the Symposium.  Featured presentations were by Sir John Wilson, Past President of IAPB, and Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt.  In her remarks, Mrs. Mubarak stressed the importance of including a blindness prevention component in any integrated health care program.  As an advocate for improvement in health care, Mrs. Mubarak emphasized that eye diseases and sight disabilities were rife among the elderly, women and children, especially in rural areas because of ignorance or lack in health care services.

Dr. Alfred Sommer, AOI member, was Organizer for the Symposium and presented the Keynote Address: “Different Markets; Growing Needs.”  The international program included presentations by AOI members, Dr. August F. Deutman, Dr. Paul R. Lichter, Dr. Gottfried O. H. Naumann, Dr. Alfred Sommer, Dr. Bruce E. Spivey, Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma, and Dr. Björn Tengroth

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International Ophthalmology Strategic Plan: The Nile Meeting in Egypt

Shipboard collegiality on the Nile River.
Shipboard collegiality on the Nile River.

The ancient wonders of Egyptian civilization and culture were the geographic framework for the Nile Meeting in Egypt on February 24-28, 1999.  The Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (AOI), International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO), Advisory Committee of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ACICO), American Academy of Ophthalmology International Advisory Committee, and consultants representing major non-governmental organizations met several times daily while inspirited by the majestic stone figures of Ramses II at Abu Simble and traveling on the Nile River from Aswan to Luxor.  Intertwined with the formal discussions were opportunities to admire the historic Temple of Horus, the monumental architecture of Karnak and Luxor, and the artistry of tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens.

The collegiality and shared shipboard experience blended with the hours of discussion, the daily draft copies of documents, and the systematic evolution of a working text for the International Ophthalmology Strategic Plan.  With Mr. William C. Felch as Facilitator, the ideas, concerns and recommendations of the 45 meeting participants from 22 countries and six continents were incorporated in the draft document.

Utilizing the established format of strategic planning to address broad future directions, Nile Meeting participants formulated the following general statement of purpose:

The mission of international ophthalmology is to preserve and restore vision and to eliminate blindness that results from treatable eye disease for people throughout the world.  International ophthalmology will work to assure that all people have access to high quality, affordable eye care, and that all ophthalmologists have access to the training and continuing education they need to provide the best possible care.

To fulfill this mission, the planning group identified six goals that require sustained activity.  These are:   

  • Ophthalmic training    
  • Continuing ophthalmic education    
  • Preservation and restoration of vision and prevention of blindness    
  • Advocacy for education and blindness prevention    
  • Definition of eye care guidelines and standards    
  • Research
At Abu Simble, Nile Meeting participants and guests at the Temple of Ramses II, Egyptian Pharaoh, 1279-1212 B.C.
At Abu Simble, Nile Meeting participants and guests at the Temple of Ramses II, Egyptian Pharaoh, 1279-1212 B.C.

To attain these goals, volunteers among the meeting participants agreed to specific follow-up responsibilities as well as schedules, and identified worldwide leaders who are essential partners in actions on behalf of international ophthalmology.

During the period following the Nile Meeting, Chairs and Co-Chairs for each goal have accepted responsibility. Leading ophthalmologists and health planning experts have demonstrated a gratifying willingness to assume major roles within each goal.

Further discussion of this plan for international ophthalmology is scheduled at a meeting of the ICO and AOI in Orlando, Florida, USA, on October 23, 1999.  Coordinators for the joint strategic plan meeting are Dr. Gottfried O.H. Naumann (President of ICO), Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma (President of AOI), Dr. Bruce E. Spivey (Secretary-General of ICO) and Dr. Gabriel J. Coscas (Secretary-General of AOI). As a catalyst for working together, the International Ophthalmology Strategic Plan offers an extraordinary opportunity for achieving the mission of preservation and restoration of vision for people throughout the world.

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XII Congress of the European Society of Ophthalmology

The XII Congress of the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) is scheduled in Stockholm, Sweden, June 21-July 1, 1999.  Dr. Bo T. Philipson, President of the Congress, has graciously invited members of AOI to attend this distinguished international meeting.  AOI Members, Dr. Ahti Tarkkanen and Dr. Björn M. Tengroth are Honorary Presidents of the Congress.

In the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma will represent the AOI. Throughout the Congress, AOI Members are participating in a substantial number of the scientific presentations, symposia and courses.

The IVth Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis  Lecture, “Recent Progress in Prostaglandin and Leukotriene Research,” is being presented on June 29 by Prof. Bengt Samuelsson, Nobel Laureate and former President of the Karolinska Institute.

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Vision 2020: The Right to Sight

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), the World Health Organization (WHO) and 18 other national and international organizations from 11 countries announced “Vision 2020: The Right to Sight” as a global campaign to eliminate 80% of the world’s blindness.  At a conference in Geneva on February 18, 1999, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO Director General, targeted programs to control four eye conditions responsible for 80% of the world’s blindness: cataract, trachoma, onchocerciasis and childhood blindness due primarily to vitamin A deficiency.

The Vision 2020 campaign will create awareness, emphasize the importance of blindness prevention in national health programs and help raise funds needed to achieve the goals of the campaign.

Stemming from extensive planning, the global campaign is based on WHO estimates that there are 45 million blind people in the world today and 135 million with low vision.  The world’s population is projected to increase from 5.9 billion in 1996 to 7.9 billion in 2020.  The number of people more than 45 years of age will grow from approximately 1 billion to 2 billion by 2020.  Thus, programs to surmount the challenge of increased visual disability and blindness require immediate and sustained support by ophthalmologists, organizations committed to prevention of visual disability and governmental healthcare entitites.

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International Council of Ophthalmology

Bruce E. Spivey, M.D.Secretary-General, International Council of Ophthalmology

Augmenting deliberations regarding the International Ophthalmology Strategic Plan, the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and Advisory Committee of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ACICO) met during the Nile Meeting in Egypt on February 24, 1999.  Dr. Gottfried O. H. Naumann, President of ICO, led discussions of reports and committees including ICO participation in the Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness – Vision 2020.

Plans for the XXIX International Congress of Ophthalmology in Sydney, Australia in 2002 were reviewed by Dr. Frank Martin and implementation of the Twinning Concept to support sustained partnerships among institutions at different levels of development was presented by Dr. Frank A. Billson.

As a major activity of the ICO, Dr. Peter G. Watson, Chairman of the Education Committee, reported that for 1998, the ICO Basic Science Assessment had 866 candidates (333 passed the Assessment procedure) and that the ICO Clinical Assessment had 188 candidates.  In 1999, the Education Committee expects a larger number of candidates for the Basic Science Assessment and for the Clinical Assessment. Dr. Watson’s activities to provide assessment procedures for ophthalmologists who are in training throughout the world were warmly endorsed by the Council.  Communication regarding the ICO activities and the education programs is an important aspect of Council activities.  This is being facilitated by the ICO Website - http://www.icoph.org.

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Prof. Robert Machemer Elected to the AOI

Prof. Robert Machemer, M.D., was elected to Chair 22 of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis on June 21, 1998.  Born in Germany, Dr. Machemer studied at the Universities of Munster, Germany.  He completed residency training in ophthalmology in Gottingen.

Thereafter, he moved to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami in the United States, as a research fellow and was appointed to the faculty of that institution in 1968.  He advanced to full Professor at the University of Miami.  Several years later, Prof. Machemer accepted the position of Professor and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, United States.

Prof. Machemer has had a profound effect on ophthalmology as a result of his description of pars plana vitrectomy at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 1970.  His work fundamentally changed the approach to defects, diseases and injuries of the posterior ocular segment.

Throughout an illustrious career, Prof. Machemer has delivered many of the major named lectures of international ophthalmology including the Edward Jackson Memorial Lecture at the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  He has been visiting professor at many institutions.  Prof. Machemer has served on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Ophthalmology and is author of innumerable scientific articles and reports.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Prof. Machemer has received Honorary Membership in ophthalmology societies throughout the world and an Honorary Doctoral Degree from the University of Göttingen.

As his most recent accolade, Prof. Machemer received the Jules Gonin Medal from Prof. Akira Nakjima at the Opening Session of the XXVIII International Congress of Ophthalmology on June 21, 1998.

Prof. Machemer and his wife, Christine, bring honor and distinction to the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis.

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Prof. Gullapalli N. Rao Elected to the AOI

Prof. Gullapalli N. Rao, M.D., F.A.C.S., was elected to Chair 41 in the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis on June 21, 1998.  The Founder and Director of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India, Dr. Rao was born in Chodovaram, A.P., India and educated at the Guntur Medical College, India; All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; Tufts Medical School, Boston, United States; University of Connecticut, Hartford, United States and University of Rochester, Rochester, United States.  He focuses his scientific activity on diseases of the cornea, corneal transplantation, contact lenses, and cataract surgery.

Dr. Rao is Editor-in-Chief, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, and a member of the Editorial Board of four other scientific journals.  He is author of over 100 published papers that have appeared in scientific journals throughout the world, and a frequent visiting professor and invited speaker throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States.  Among the honor awards received by Dr. Rao are recognitions received from the All India Ophthalmological Society, Telugu Association of North America, American Academy of Ophthalmology and the International Medical Contact Lens Society.

Dr. Gabriel Coscas, Professor of the Universities of France, was installed as an Officer of the Legion of Honor at a ceremony on May 19, 1999.  This distinction was presented to Prof. Coscas, Secretary-General of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, in recognition of his distinguished career and extensive contributions to the advance of ophthalmic science and medicine.

Dr. Rao and his wife, Pratibha Rao, bring honor and distinction to the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis.

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Prof. Gabriel Coscas Honored

Dr. Gabriel Coscas, Professor of the Universities of France, was installed as an Officer of the Legion of Honor at a ceremony on May 19, 1999. This distinction was presented to Prof. Coscas, Secretary-General of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis, in recognition of his distinguished career and extensive contributions to the advance of ophthalmic science and medicine.

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Academia Directory Update

The Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis Directory 1999 was distributed to AOI members, ICO members and representative participants in international ophthalmology activities.

With the increasing utilization of the Internet, the global expansion of telecommunications and various changes in information, a supplement incorporating information received up to May 1, 1999 is available.  This is being distributed to recipients of the initial 1999 Directory.

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Academia Meetings in Jerusalem in 2000

The Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis (AOI) and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) have accepted the gracious invitation to meet with the VIth Mediterranean Congress of Ophthalmology and the VIth Michaelson Symposium on Ocular Circulation and Neovascularization in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 21-26, 2000.

The cordial invitation was extended by Dr. David BenEzra, President of the Mediterranean Ophthalmological Society, Dr. Gabriel Coscas and Dr. Stephen Ryan, Presidents of the Michaelson Club, and Dr. Michael Blumenthal, Member of the Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis.

The International Ophthalmology Strategic Plan will be the subject of discussion at a meeting coordinated by the ICO and AOI on May 20.  The AOI Scientific Session, including the Business Meeting, is scheduled for the morning on May 21.  Arrangements are being coordinated in Jerusalem by Dr. Michael Blumenthal.

The VIth Mediterranean Congress and the VIth  Michaelson Symposium will commence with a welcoming reception on the evening on May 21 and continue with scientific programs through May 26.  Arrangements are being made for an outstanding social and cultural program to accompany the scientific activities.

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International Meeting in Singapore

Dr. Joaquín Barraquer, AOI member (left), received the SNEC International Gold Medal from Dr. Arthur S.M. Lim, SNEC Medical Director and AOI member (right). (Photograph courtesy of SNEC.)
Dr. Joaquín Barraquer, AOI member (left), received the SNEC International Gold Medal from Dr. Arthur S.M. Lim, SNEC Medical Director and AOI member (right). (Photograph courtesy of SNEC.)

At the 3rd Singapore National Eye Center (SNEC) International Meeting and the 11th International Meeting on Cataract, Implant, Microsurgery and Refractive Keratoplasty in Singapore on November 28-30, 1998, the excellent scientific program featured the televised performance of cataract surgery by skilled SNEC faculty.

During the Opening Session, Dr. Arthur Lim, SNEC Medical Director and AOI member, presented the SNEC International Gold Medal to AOI members, Dr. Joaquín Barraquer and Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma.  Citations read by Dr. Lim emphasized contributions of the recipients to education and specialty training programs of benefit to Asia.

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