Optometry Meeting Spotlights Ocular Surface Disease

Caroline Helwick

October 04, 2017

Two hot topics — the role of the retina in neurological diseases and new concepts in ocular surface disease — will headline special symposia at Academy 2017 Chicago, the American Academy of Optometry's (AAOpt) annual conference to be held October 11-14 in Chicago, Illinois. In addition, the meeting will provide a wide array of clinically relevant courses and cutting-edge research in vision sciences.

"The concept that the eye is a 'window to the brain' means we may soon be in a position where various imaging capabilities of the retina will allow for possibly early diagnosis of certain neurological disorders and/or allow close monitoring for progression of the disease," said Neil A. Pence, OD, associate dean of Clinical and Patient Care Services at the Indiana University School of Optometry.

Dr Pence, along with Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, president-elect of the academy, previewed this year's Plenary Session, "Today's Research, Tomorrow's Practice®: The Eye as a Mirror of the Brain," for Medscape Medical News. The session delves into the latest findings about the role of the retina in such conditions as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis.

In the symposium's line-up:

  • Marina Bedny, PhD, from Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland, will discuss how blindness affects brain development, how the visual cortex repurposes itself, and how the brain differs with regard to congenital vs acquired blindness. She will also describe rare cases of sight recovery.

  • Chris Hudson, PhD, from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canda, representing the Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI), will present the first results of ONDRI's research regarding ophthalmologic changes related to stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and temporal dementia.

  • Robert Sergott, MD, from Wills Eye Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will provide a case-oriented discussion of the diagnostic workup in neurodegenerative diseases.

Focus on Ocular Surface Disease

Attendees will have the tough task of choosing among more than 250 hours of lectures and workshops, 12 section and special interest group symposia, hundreds of scientific papers and posters, and memorable social events, the organizers said.

"All the various content tracks have very strong course line-ups," Dr Pence told Medscape Medical News. "Of particular note this year might be the strength of the material covering ocular surface disease. Ocular surface disease continues to be an important topic, due to the large numbers of individuals affected, new and developing treatment technologies, and increased understanding of the underlying science of these disorders."

Falling into this category is the third Joint American Academy of Optometry/American Academy of Ophthalmology Symposium, titled "Ocular Surface Disease: What You May Be Missing." "We will present new thoughts in pathophysiology, treatment, and the hot topic of neuropathology in dry eye disease," said Dr Caffery, who is a comoderator for the session. "This symposium is a continuation of the effort by the two academies to work together to better prepare and support their members in delivering the highest quality eye care."

Through a 2-hour course, attendees will become more familiar with new definitions and other key findings put forth in 2017 by the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society in its International Dry Eye Workshop II. This was a 2-year effort by 150 experts from 23 counties, and it updates the 2007 landmark report that critically assessed the etiology, management, and global impact of this disorder.

Further research on dry eye will be a feature of the Anterior Segment Section Symposium, "New Perspectives in Dry Eye: Neuropathic Corneal Pain," Dr Pence added.

Rapid-Fire Learning, Precision Medicine

According to Dr Pence, the Lectures and Workshops Committee, which he chairs, is excited to be offering a "rapid fire format" for 14 of its courses. "The audience is updated on the topics in short 12-minute presentations from multiple speakers. These fast-paced hours deliver the most important key points in a concise and attention-grabbing manner," he said.

A new program from the National Institutes of Health, entitled the Precision Medicine Initiative, will enroll 1 million volunteers beginning in 2017 and is intended to fundamentally change the optometrists' approach to patient care. The Hirsch symposium, "Precision Medicine and the Future of Eye Care," will explore the developments that have led to this initiative and what it may mean for the future treatment and prevention of eye disease.

Dr Caffery disclosed financial relationships with Santen, Labtician, Allergan, Shire, and Novartis. Dr Pen has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Academy of Optometry (AAOpt) Annual Conference. October 11-14, 2017.

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