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Global Vision with a Local Flavour

Debates, dry labs, and surgical trainers to highlight 2024 Congress.

Global Vision with a Local Flavour
Stuart Hales
Stuart Hales
Published: Monday, July 1, 2024

A boxing ring is a fitting venue for a spirited debate, but what about a dance hall? If the dance style is flamenco, known for its passion and expressive style, the debaters will certainly feel at home.

That’s the goal of the ESCRS Tablao, a concept that builds on the successful launch of the ESCRS Arena at the 2023 Annual Congress in Vienna. Tablao is a colloquial term for the Spanish word tablado (‘floorboard’) and is also a place where flamenco shows are performed; tablao is also the term for the platform floor on which a flamenco dancer dances. Tablao venues were developed during the 1960s throughout Spain, replacing the cafés cantantes—or cabarets.

The Tablao programme at the 2024 Annual Congress will run from Saturday through Monday (7–9 September) and begin each morning with an 80-minute “Surgical Pearls” presentation on refractive/cornea (Saturday), anterior segment (Sunday), and cataract (Monday). The debates will take place in the afternoon and will be preceded by an animated introduction to flamenco and live presentations of surgical simulators. Each debate will be overseen by a moderator and two judges.

The tentative topics for the debates are as follows:

Cataract/Refractive Debate: My first option: EDOF IOLs!

Corneal Refractive Debate: Femto-Lasik is the standard procedure!

Cataract Surgery Training across the World: A simulated curriculum is mandatory!

Each debate will be followed by a panel discussion; the discussion topics are as follows:

• The Surgeon-Industry Exchange: What doctors want to know from industry, and what industry wants to know from doctors

• How should I start refractive surgery?

• Training surgery

• Young ophthalmologists for sustainability

“With Tablao, we are trying to bring a cultural focus to this year’s arena programme and also highlight our Congress as a global model for training and inclusion,” says Filomena Ribeiro, president of ESCRS. “This is something we really want to push for future Congresses as well—to bring more training opportunities to young people and deliver networking moments that can only be experienced face-to-face in a multicultural environment.”

To support these twin goals, the 2024 Congress will feature several other innovations as well. Following are highlights of the Barcelona programme.

Surgical Training Lab

Located in the exhibition hall, the Surgical Training Lab will feature 17 training devices from three manufacturers: Haag-Streit, Alcon, and HelpMeSee. Attendees can register for up to three sessions in the lab, and each session will be guided by a trainer using a curriculum developed by the manufacturer. The sessions are free, and the lab will be open during the hours the exhibit hall is open.

“Having 17 machines will allow us to enrol a large number of participants,” Ribeiro says. “Surgical training is a topic of interest to all attendees, and I expect this will be the highlight of the Congress for many.”

Dry Labs

In addition to its traditional wet labs, the Congress in Barcelona will feature 16 dry lab stations covering 4 different topics (which are still being determined). The dry labs will use model eyes instead of animal material to simulate ocular surgery.

The dry labs will feature Zeiss Stemi microscopes linked to iPads, allowing trainers to watch and record a trainee’s surgery and easily provide feedback about their performance. The majority of the dry labs in Barcelona will be aimed at novice surgeons with little or no prior surgical experience.

“The introduction of digital dry labs will enable trainees to repeatedly practise surgical manoeuvres, such as creating a capsulorhexis, suturing corneal lacerations, and performing steps of penetrating keratoplasty, using high-fidelity model eyes,” says John Ferris, who is coordinating the dry labs with Alja Crnej and Vladimir Pfeifer. “Trainers can observe and record the simulated surgery on iPads, then rewatch the videos with the trainee and provide feedback about their performance.”

Global Refractive Summit

On Friday, 6 September, ESCRS will host a first-ever Global Refractive Summit from 8:00 until 14:00. ESCRS has invited the Brazilian Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (BRASCRS) and the International Society of Refractive Surgery (ISRS) to participate in the event.

The summit will address a multitude of topics, including the following:

• Recent advances in corneal refractive surgery

• Refractive surgery and endothelial disease

• Decision-making processes in refractive surgery based on AI

• New phakic IOL sizing parameters and prediction models

• SMILE for hyperopia outcomes

ESCRS will also host a symposium in conjunction with the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) and the Asia-Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (APACRS). That symposium, titled “My Refractive Surgery Path,” will be held Monday, 9 September, from 8:15–10:15 and address topics such as lenticule extraction, LASIK/PRK boundaries, and refractive lens exchange limits.

Additionally, ESCRS is hosting a mini symposium with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) on Monday from 9:00–10:00. ESCRS is also inviting presentations of industry abstracts at an EU Clinical Trial Spotlight Session on Sunday from 8:30–10:00.

“We are really delivering a global programme by coordinating with these international societies,” Ribeiro says. “We are also taking a global view of large clinical trials that industry is promoting in the EU. Barcelona is the first time we will present this model, and we are very excited about it.”

75th Anniversary of IOL Implantation

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first implantation of an intraocular lens, the Congress will feature a tunnel museum with different rooms to showcase the history behind this groundbreaking event. The museum will explore not only Harold Ridley’s role but also the debates around the procedure, the development of IOL surgery, and what the future holds.

In advance of developing the museum, ESCRS conducted a video clip competition, “My Personal Special IOL Moment.” Ophthalmologists were invited to submit short video clips (maximum 60 seconds) telling their personal IOL story.

“The huge number of submissions we received was amazing,” Ribeiro says. “They will bring a special spirit to this celebration.”

Building our Sustainable Inclusive Society (BoSS)

Building on a leadership session on implicit bias presented at the ESCRS Winter Meeting in Frankfurt, the Congress will feature a symposium, an instructional course, and a workshop on diversity and inclusion. There will also be a mentorship programme and support for families, like a creche and a family-friendly activities programme.

“The digital transformation will bring with it some topics we need to think about, like whether it’s biased or not and, if so, what are the implications of that?” says Ribeiro. “And then we also must try to understand the bias impact on the decision-making process in our field and try to deliver some instruments to deal with these kinds of issues.”

Main Symposia and Lectures

Throughout the Congress, attendees will have their pick of numerous symposia on topics such as:

• Anything new in keratoconus?

• The latest on IOLs

• The future of refractive surgery

• Surgical complications: You make the call

• Telemedicine in ophthalmology

Complementing these symposia will be instructional courses, paper sessions, and workshops, as well as the Heritage Lecture and the Ridley Medal Lecture. The Heritage Lecture will be delivered by Richard Packard, whose presentation is titled “High wire act to the standard of care: Charlie Kelman and the history of phacoemulsification.” Abhay Vasavada will deliver the Ridley Medal Lecture, titled “Late Decentration of IOLs: An Enigma.”

“I think we will have records at this Congress for the number of submissions for free papers, videos, clinical cases, and instructional courses,” Ribeiro says. “There will be lots of reasons to stay for the whole Congress, from the beginning to the end.”

Tags: Barcelona, ESCRS Annual Congress, dry labs, surgical trainer, Tablao, Global Refractive Summit, IOL, BoSS, symposia
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