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Eye to the future of ophthalmology

By Priscilla Lynch - 21st Apr 2024


Priscilla Lynch speaks to Irish College of Ophthalmologists President Mr John Doris about the College’s upcoming Annual Conference

Sustainability in healthcare is one of the key themes of this year’s Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) Annual Conference, which will take place from 15-17 May at the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Co Mayo.

It is a theme that is close to the heart of ICO President Mr John Doris, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, with a special interest in vitreoretinal surgery, who is based in University Hospital Waterford (UHW). Mr Doris pointed out that healthcare contributes nearly 5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. He stressed the importance of healthcare services examining how they can reduce their use of resources, while balancing optimal patient care.

“The two key markers of my presidency are about sustainability in ophthalmology and improving metrics,” Mr Doris told the Medical Independent (MI). “Those are the two big topics that will feature in this year’s meeting.”

The upcoming conference will have a special session dedicated to sustainability in ophthalmology, where experts from both home and overseas will share their knowledge with delegates on ways to minimise the carbon footprint of the specialty and plan for the future.

The two key markers of my presidency are about sustainability in ophthalmology and improving metrics

“It is about being sustainable in environmental terms, but also in relation to work practices, and ensuring career longevity, and taking actions to achieve that,” Mr Doris said.

Mr John Doris

“The goal of this session is to get practical guidance and advice, and a platform for discussion around actions that we can do in the future in relation to sustainability. So this is kind of a starting point.”

There will be a new dedicated portal placed on the ICO website about sustainability where knowledge
and advice can be shared and updated for members, he told MI.

“And this is not going to be the end of it either. The [focus on] sustainability in the programme this year is intended to continue on every year in some form or other…. It’s about making sure that we have sustainable careers and that we’re setting up structures that
are sustainable.”

Service updates

The meeting will also hear updates on the HSE Clinical Programme for Ophthalmology, and the roll-out of the integrated eye care teams and reduction in paediatric and cataract waiting lists. Ms Aoife Doyle, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH), Dublin, has taken over from Prof William Power as HSE Clinical Lead
for Ophthalmology.

The establishment of dedicated cataract theatres across the country is also continuing. It follows the success of the roll-outs in RVEEH and Nenagh Hospital (from Limerick), a new cataract theatre in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, and the very recent opening of a dedicated theatre in UHW, which Mr Doris said is working very well so far.

The next pressing need is to introduce a national ophthalmology electronic medical record, which would fully link up the hospital sites and integrated eye care teams in the community, Mr Doris stressed. Work is ongoing on this issue.

Mr Doris thanked Mr Sean Chen, Chair of the ICO scientific committee, and all those involved in organising this year’s Annual Conference.

Full coverage of the meeting will appear in a future issue of the Medical Independent.

ICO Annual Conference 2024 programme highlights

This year’s three-day ICO Annual Conference programme contains a varied mix of topical sessions looking at vision and strabismus, uveitis, an orbit and socket symposium, and sustainability in ophthalmology, featuring leading national and international speakers. There will also be the usual paper sessions highlighting high-quality research from across the country, as well as practical workshops on disc assessment – how to assess an
optic nerve, and corneal topography.

Among the guest speakers are Mr Ian Marsh, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Liverpool University Hospital, NHS Trust, UK; and Dr Arvind Chandna, Senior Clinician Scientist at Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, US, who will present at the Vision and Strabismus symposium; alongside Ms Kathryn McCreery, Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin Hospital, Dublin.

Mr Manoj Parulekar, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, UK; and Prof Geoffrey Rose, Consultant Orbital, Lacrimal and Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK, are guest speakers at the Orbit and Socket symposium. Mr Tim Fulcher, Mater Hospital, Dublin, will chair and present at this session.

During the dedicated symposium on Sustainability in Ophthalmology, Ms Radhika Rampat, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Free London NHS Trust, UK, will discuss the sustainability in ophthalmology journey so far of the American European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgery (AECOS) – Green Working Group. Ms Rampat is the co-chair of the group.

Dr Philip Crowley, HSE National Lead for Climate Change, will discuss the HSE Climate Action Strategy 2023-2050 being adopted to reduce emissions and protect population health in the Irish healthcare system.

Dr Emilie Mahon, RCSI Ophthalmology Tutor at the RVEEH, Dublin, will outline the findings of her research on the ecological impact of phacoemulsification cataract surgery where she examined the single-use items consumption at University Hospital Limerick.

Mr Arthur Cummings, Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Wellington Eye Clinic, Dublin, will present on how artificial intelligence and the allied health professional team can lead to improvements in making ophthalmic practice sustainable.

This year’s Mooney Lecture on the topic of ‘TED (Thyroid Eye Disease) Customised Management’ will be delivered by Prof Geoffrey Rose, Consultant Orbital, Lacrimal, and Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon and Past Director of the Adnexal Service at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.

The European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) Lecture 2024 will be delivered by Mr Micheal O’Rourke, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, RVEEH, Dublin.

Also speaking at the conference, Prof Brendan Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and Consultant Psychiatrist at Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, will share his insights on ‘Pandemics in Ireland, and lessons learned from Covid (If any)’. His recently published book Resilience: Lessons from Sir William Wilde on Life After Covid reflects on the pandemic in Ireland and what we might learn as a society and as individuals from the experience.

Prof Kelly will present the Sir William Wilde Medal to the author of the best poster.

See for the full programme details.

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