ESCRS - Ukraine Update: From Ukraine to New Zealand ;

Ukraine Update: From Ukraine to New Zealand

Ukraine Update: From Ukraine to New Zealand

Ukrainian ophthalmologists continue to function in the midst of the conflict their country continues to endure. The Russian aggression that began in February 2022 happened very close to the annual conference of the Union of Ukrainian Ophthalmic Surgeons. One year later, the organisation again held its meeting, led by chairman Volodymyr Melnyk MD, PhD.

Dr Melnyk said it was essential that the congress be held one year after the hostilities began. He noted such events inspire positive emotions, which are incredibly important for the Ukrainian people.

“I’m very proud of all our speakers and delegates, who found the courage to come to Kyiv from all Ukrainian regions and take part in our event in person. This year, we had more than 400 participants, and it is a great achievement, despite the war and all the complications,” he told EuroTimes.

More than 50 Ukrainian speakers reviewed cataract, glaucoma, vitreoretinal, and corneal and refractive surgeries—including many young ophthalmologists.

The programme included online presentations by several ESCRS members, including Professor Thomas Kohnen, who spoke of surface photoablation, Professor Béatrice Cochener-Lamard on lenticular intrastromal surgery, Professor Filomena Ribeiro on the management of cataract after corneal refractive surgery, and Professor Rudy Nuijts discussing cataracts and corneal diseases. In addition, Professor Oliver Findl reviewed managing the unhappy patient, and Professor Dick Burkhard discussed innovations in cataract and MIGS surgery.

“Many Ukrainian ophthalmologists in eastern and southern parts of our country had to leave their cities, close their clinics, and stop working because of the active war,” Dr Melnyk reported. “But, thanks to our armed forces, we conserved and restored our practical activity in the biggest Ukrainian cities with a wide network of ophthalmic care.”

On to New Zealand

The ESCRS has an ongoing programme to support our Ukrainian colleagues that includes free registration to Ukrainian surgeons to attend our annual Congress (more than 400 attended in person in Milan), as well as grants for travel and accommodation. The Society has also arranged to provide observerships and some travel grants for these colleagues, one of which we recently finalised. Dr Iryna Ovchar will visit the Greenlane Clinical Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, hosted by Dr Richard Hart.

“This was very well done, and it is a great result,” said Tom Ogilvie-Graham, Managing Director of the ESCRS. “It will not only be a great experience for Iryna but also sends a signal to our Ukrainian colleagues—and the wider Ukrainian community—that they are not forgotten and, indeed, supported by a country as far away as New Zealand.”

In addition, as part of a long-term project sponsored by ESCRS at the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, two Ukrainian junior doctors will undertake secondments in Jerusalem this June. There will also be four observerships in Oxford over the summer, co-sponsored with Oxford University and arranged by Professor Rob MacLaren.

The observership was made possible in part by donations from our members. As the war unfortunately enters its second year, the ESCRS will endeavour to continue providing targeted support for Ukrainian surgeons.

The Society has established a fund to accept financial donations that will exclusively support ophthalmology-related relief efforts arising from this conflict. We can accept donations to the fund from ESCRS members, industry partners, and fellow societies.

We can accept these donations through bank transfer. Simply log in at using your membership details to access information on how to donate, which is a straightforward process.

For industry partners or fellow societies, please email for information on how to make your donation.

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