The American Academy of Orthokeratology & Myopia Control-hosted conference was held September 5-9.
The sixteenth conference of the American Academy of Orthokeratology & Myopia Control (AAOMC), known as Vision By Design (VBD) 2023, was held in Schaumburg, Illinois September 5-9.
The conference was attended by nearly 300 eye care professionals (ECPs) and staff from around the globe. This year’s event saw interesting innovations, both in how presenters went about their jobs and attendee interactions with presenters and fellow meeting participants. A new app application allowed presenters to field questions from the audience more directly, while permitting interactive responses to questions from the attendees. In addition, all attendees who had access to the app during the conference could interact online with each other. This was a real positive to encouraging a great culture at this event.
VBD is the premiere myopia and specialty lens meeting and has been in this position longer than any other event worldwide. Whereas other events have added a myopia theme to their events, VBD was a myopia meeting from its inception. VBD is the extension of the education arm of the AAOMC board, which means that over 35 auxiliary and board members contribute to the planning and execution of the final program. In comparison, other specialty conferences are based on and/or supported by commercial entities. This means that the unique programs that make up VBD will be a roll out of the mission statements of the board every year.
The meeting’s purpose is to serve the needs and desires of eyecare professionals first and foremost. That is the only agenda, as VBD does not serve commercial interests and is in fact neutral on our industry. These programs and this purpose-driven agenda results in brand new programs free of commercial bias with motivated presenters who actually practice what they preach, which meets the high demands set by the board and membership. VBD has always emphasized orthokeratology as the gold standard in myopia management and puts special emphasis on that, but not at the expenses of the other growing myopia management specialties such as multifocal scleral contact lenses (SCLs) and atropine.
Where would a conference like VBD be without “SuperCharge Your Practice?” Indeed, Nick Despotidis, OD, FAAO, has been offering this amazing stand-alone program at every VBD since its inception. Mixed with cutting-edge ideas and dynamite practice management gems, this lecture has become a must-attend to any practitioners getting serious about orthokeratology and the myopia management specialty. This year the course was offered on Tuesday, the first day of the event. SuperCharge is an exclusive event only available in this format at VBD.
The main events get rolling on Wednesday and Thursday. “Bootcamp” is one of those, being a unique VBD experience as it an introductory 2-day session into myopia management (MM) and orthokeratology. Here is where you will get to experience the unique approach only found at VBD where the presenters are not only experienced in MM but have walked the talk in their own specialty practice settings. What this means for attendees is that you’re going to receive real world information based not only on the latest research, but how that is being applied in everyday practice. Here is where that unique strength that is VBD comes to the forefront as most of the presenters have been or are currently serving on the boards of the academy. In other words, you couldn’t ask for a more dedicated and motivated crew.
And indeed, “Bootcamp” can be raucous at times, fed by a contagious exuberance that seems to infect all present. And it’s all hands-on, which makes learning the new technologies so much better even for those less technology savvy. Whether you’re discussing the epidemiology of myopia with Cheryl Chapman, OD, FAAO, FIAOMC, IACMM; options for managing myopia or economics of myopia management with Dwight Barnes, OD, FIAOMC, IACMM; or topography basics with Randy Kojima, FAAO, FBCLA, FSLS, FIAO, you’re getting the information—and even better, the purpose behind it. "Bootcamp” evolves and it’s not unusual to see attendees take it again a few years later. Besides, it’s a whole lot of fun with great comradery.
Wrapping things up was a special program conceived by Caroline Cauchi called, “Nibbles of Knowledge,” where attendees get “hands on time” with all the important myopia management instruments and ortho-k molds.
The general sessions, however, are where the effort put in by the board meets the road. This takes place over 3 days and includes just about anything you can imagine. Yes, there are manufacturer seminars like other conferences. But what other events after evening workshops that are so loaded with content that they may not wrap up until the wee hours of the morning. This year, these included an OrthoTools Workshop by Eddie Chow, OD FAAO, FIAOMC; “Fighting Myopia with Confidence,” given by Maria Liu, OD, PhD; as well as Teddy Chow, OD, and Aaron Wolf, OD, discussing, “Profilometry based Ortho-K.” In fact, it’s not uncommon at VBD to not experience much of what’s happening in the outside world as sessions and content are so engrossing.
In these sessions you’re going to have the notable national and international presenters brushing shoulders with the new breed of home grown a hallmark of VBD. This year’s illustrious faculty—of which many presented in the Scientific Session—included the latest research and trends in myopia management. If you’re like me, its next to impossible to stay up on the latest happenings in this growing field, so this information is concise and invaluable.
Friday morning included Maria Liu, OD, who spoke on latest in on pupil profiling, Langis Michaud, OD, MSc, FAAO, updated us on the myopia management literature, Jeff Walline, OD, PhD, covered the topic of delaying myopia onset, Randy Kojima discussed the Voltz Study, Monica Jong, OD, PhD, was engaging as she discussed engaging pediatricians in myopia management. Furthermore, keynot speaker David Berntsen, OD, PhD, drew insights into the mechanisms of myopia control and Nad Kevin Chan, OD, MS, FAAO, spoke on what to know when managing pediatric unilateral and anisometropic myopia. Lisa Ostrin, OD, PhD, covered the current landscape in optical, pharmacological, and light-based therapy for myopia management. With all the noise coming from China—both good and bad—on red light therapy, Ostrin’s course was an eye opener. Brittany Bolland, OD, and Colleen Podd, OD, both instructors at the University of Michigan Ophthalmology, discussed unusual applications of myopia control, addressing high myopia and very young pediatric patient applications.
As mentioned earlier, the “home-grown” talent really separates VBD from the competition and makes it head and shoulders the best myopia specialty meeting. Saturday of our conference was devoted to the home-grown talent. Helen Duan, OD, MD, MS, FIAOMC, IACMM, offered a valuable update on the current low-dose atropine landscape. Though not a member of the board but always being a part of the VBD/IAOMC culture, Arthur Tung, MD, a Taiwan ophthalmologist creator of the Global Orthokeratology Vision (GOV) ortho-k lens system, and his daughter Tze Yu Tung, OD, totally left everyone shocked as he covered remediation of visual efficiency problems with peripheral anti-defocus. Yes, you read that right. Turns out we don’t even know what we thought we knew about how the visual system functions. Julio Arroyo, a brilliant clinician, covered the growing field of hyperopic orthokeratology, with 11 practical tips for greater success. Juan Bolivar brought his unique perspective on addressing the correction of post-LASIK visual errors with an off-label application of uniquely designed ortho-k lenses.
Leaving the best for last, Matthew Martin, OD, FIAOMC, Tom Weshefsky, OD, and Cheryl Chapman, OD, FIAOMC, FAAO, were brilliant as they presented real life ortho-k fitting issues that we all encounter in an innovative format with audience participation. Lastly, Langis Michaud, OD MSc, FAAO, and Patrick Simard, OD, FAAO, MSc, IACMM, presented grand rounds bent on decoding the complexities of myopia management into real time clinical solutions—an invaluable hour talk.
For attendees who would like to keep up with the advancing specialty of scleral lenses, VBD has partnered with the Scleral Lens Education Society to offer courses in that specialty with a presentation by Stephanie Woo, OD, FAAO, FSLS, covering updates on scleral technology, and Brianna Rhue, OD, FAAO, FSLS, with an invaluable take on scleral typography and why it matters. Rhue also offered insights into coding and managing the specialty, and provided forms she custom designed for her specialty practice.
Available along with the amazing courses and presentations are opportunities throughout the meeting to receive mentorship or testing to certify your achievements in the field. For anyone getting serious about myopia management and specialization, it's a must to learn how to separate yourself from the “herd” mentality. These courses and content are directed towards ECPs and their staffs who want to take myopia management specialization to a whole different level.
Are you familiar with the two designations following my name? The Fellowship International Academy of Orthokeratology & Myopia Control (FIAOMC) and the International Academy Certification in Myopia Management (IACMM). These designations are coming from The International Academy of Orthokeratology & Myopia Control (IAOMC), which is over a decade old organization with 6 sections worldwide, including the AAOMC. The group has close to 10,000 members with two-thirds of them being ophthalmologists. The fellowship designation is earned by submitting orthokeratology/myopia management cases and defending them in front of a group of fellows, while also passing a test given earlier. The IACMM is earned by studying appropriate texts and being tested on all matters surrounding myopia to earn the designation. The Certified Myopia Navigator is given to staff members who have shown competence in the field of MM and have passed a test.
The poster sessions this year were alongside the Exhibit Hall, and thanks to Stephanie Tsang, OD, it was an outstanding success. Congratulations to Maria Liu, OD, PhD, MPH, MBA, FAAO, for her poster of the “Euclid Orthokeratology Lens In Slowing Axial Elongation,” which was poster session winner.
Finally, the conference wrapped up with the first Ortho-K Pearls Ball, where good food and drink were plentiful along with the dedicated members of the AAOMC who made all this possible. The dinner honored the new fellows and IACMMs, as well as the winner of the AAOMC Awards given for outstanding achievement in the fields of ortho-K and myopia management. That award went to Langis Michaud, OD, MSc, FAAO, FSLS, who is a full professor at The School of Optometry, University of Montreal. Kudos to them on carrying on a tradition rich in education and excellence, particularly with specialty contact lenses.
In case you missed it or just want to attend the best myopia meeting on the planet, make a date for Vision By Design 2024 October 2-5 at The Hyatt Regency in Dallas Texas. For inquiries or more details, visit aaomc.org.
Cary M. Herzberg OD, FIAOMC, IACMM, is a past president of IAOMC and is a consultant for J&J Vision.