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EyeCon 2023 brings the fast pace of innovation to today’s ophthalmology practices

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Cochair Peter J. McDonnell, MD, highlights what this year’s conference agenda will mean for clinicians and addresses the anticipated increased patient volume.

Fort Myers at night (Adobe Stock / ChristianMiller.co)

EyeCon 2023 will take place from December 1 to 2 at the Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa in Fort Myers, Florida. (Adobe Stock / ChristianMiller.co)

In December, The Optometry Times EyeCon 2023 will gather the nation’s leading eye care professionals to share new data and practical strategies that clinicians can apply in their practices. The dual tracks for optometry and ophthalmology foster greater communication among eye care professionals about the latest technology, best practices, and patient care. The conference will take place from December 1 to 2 at the Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa in Fort Myers, Florida.

Cochair Peter J. McDonnell, MD, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, recently spoke with Group Editorial Director Sheryl Stevenson about what is uniqueatthis year’s EyeCon 2023.

Note: This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity and length.

SHERYL STEVENSON: Looking to this year’s conference, what should attendeesbe excited about?

PETER J. McDONNELL, MD: The meeting is a great opportunity to get continuing medical education credits in one of the truly great settings. One of the things that I always remember, particularly when my children were young, was feeling guilty going to one of these meetings and taking time away from my family. But when I brought my family to a place like Sanibel Island for a meeting, I didn’t have to feel guilty because they would have a great time during the day while I was in the sessions.

There’s so much innovation in ophthalmology that it’s impossible these days for anybody to read all the journals and see all the articles that are coming out. To have the opportunity to sit in a nice meeting, with a very strong faculty, and have all the highlights in terms of innovation in our field presented and discussed about how to integrate them into one’s practice is a very cost-effective use of time and a good way to make sure we’re updated on all the things that are becoming available to us.

STEVENSON: The agenda focuses on some of the hot-button topics in ophthalmology. Tell us more.

McDONNELL: There are some big FDA approvals that have recently occurred or will soon occur. About 8 million people worldwide—1 million in the United States—are going to be candidates for geographic atrophy treatment. How are we going to take care of these additional 1 million patients?Will it be retina specialists? Will it be comprehensive ophthalmologists? Will there be comanagement with MDs and ODs to handle this enormous volume of patients?

Similarly, [for] myopia...what could be a bigger public health impact than nearsightedness? The recent FDA approval of devices for slowing the progression of myopia and the data suggesting that low-dose atropine can be effective in reducing the magnitude of myopic progression in young childrenmeans we’re going to have to educate ourselves so we can educate our patients. It’s interesting [that] about 80% of the literature on therapies or clinical trials for myopic progression have been not in the ophthalmic literature but in the optometric literature.

I can’t pick up a magazine or listen to the news these days without hearing about artificial intelligence. And there’s all this new technology available in terms of home monitoring of diseases [such as]glaucoma, where we can imagine that patients won’t need to be filling up our offices anymore to come in for a routine annual check of their visual field and their eye pressure to confirm that they’re stable.

Dry eye is another condition [that is] prevalent. You see some ophthalmologists or some practices that are dedicating themselves to the treatment of patients with dry eye, which would have been unheard of when I was a young ophthalmologist or resident.It’s very importantfor the comprehensive ophthalmologist to be up-to-date in all these areas and make informed decisions about which of these areas will be important parts of [their] practice.

STEVENSON: There will be some joint sessions on the agenda, as well.

McDONNELL: The thoughtful practices will figure out how to make comanagement an important part of how they are able to function well and get patients into the system in a very efficient manner.I’m hopeful that [for] ophthalmologists who have optometrists in their practices, they’ll both want to attend the meeting.

STEVENSON: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

McDONNELL: Last week, one of my colleagues from another state called me, and he told me that he attended the meeting last year virtually. He said, “I thought it was great. It seemed every speaker had these pearls that I was able to use in my practice right away.” I love that response because that is exactly what we’ve been hoping for with this meeting.

To register for or learn more about The Optometry Times EyeCon 2023, visit: https://www.gotoper.com/courses/the-optometry-times-eyecon

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