Vision rehabilitation community comes together

November 17, 2014

Imagine a meeting in which most of the great minds in your desired area of the profession of optometry come together to share their knowledge to build the greater worldwide profession. For me and the 300-plus attendees of the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry (ICBO), it is a dream come true.

Imagine a meeting in which most of the great minds in your desired area of the profession of optometry come together to share their knowledge to build the greater worldwide profession. For me and the 300-plus attendees of the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry (ICBO), it is a dream come true. For those who practice vision rehabilitation, this meeting finds no comparison.

Vision therapy: A top 10 must-have list 

A prestigious four-day multidisciplinary conference organized by the Optometric Extension Program (OEP) Foundation, ICBO is organized every four years and rotates among the U.S., Europe, and Australia. For the first time, the British Association of Behavioural Optometrists (BABO) hosted the seventh ICBO Congress in Birmingham, UK. In addition to OEPF and BABO, the ICBO partner organizations that participated include: 

• ACBO: Australasian College of Behavioural Optometry

• BOAF: Behavioral Optometry Academy Foundation

• COMOF: Consejo Mexicano de Optometría Funcional

• NORA: Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association

• SIODEC: Sociedad Internacional del Desarrollo y del Comportamiento

ICBO is a meeting that encourages and celebrates the collaborative nature of the profession. It brings people together from many countries, many disciplines, many backgrounds, and many stages of their careers. It’s about building commonalities, making connections, working together, and exploring new ideas.

Participants came from 26 countries including Germany, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Greece, and Australia. Even though the vision rehabilitation community is connected electronically, this was the first time I was able to interact with individuals I had “known” virtually for years. The family atmosphere was evident and felt by all involved.

 

Looking at the featured speakers provides a sense of the depth of the meeting.

Professor Janette Atkinson is co-director of the Visual Development Unit at the Department of Psychology, University College London, and the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. She is internationally renowned for her innovative research on vision, in particular as a pioneer in the study of early human visual development. She presented on functional visual assessment in infants and children.

Dr. Susan R. Barry is a professor of biology and neuroscience at Mount Holyoke College. Dr. Barry developed esotropia and was stereoblind since early infancy but gained stereovision and a significantly richer worldview through optometric vision therapy at age 48. Dubbed “Stereo Sue” by Oliver Sacks in a 2006 New Yorker article by that name, Dr. Barry has gone on to write her own book Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions. Dr. Barry and Dr. Leonard J. Press co-presented on the topic of emotions and embodiment in strabismus.

Dr. Alain Berthoz is a French mining engineer and neurophysiologist, member of the Academy of Sciences and honorary professor at the Collège de France (chair physiology of perception and action) with research areas in physiology of sensory-motor functions, eye movements, the vestibular system, balance control, and motion perception. He is the author of The Brain's Sense of Movement and Simplexity.

Dr. Richard Bruenech is director of the Biomedical Research Unit and professor in ocular anatomy at Buskerud University College in Norway. Dr. Bruenich spoke on the topic of the role of the oculomotor system: far more than simple rotations of the eye.

Some 48 speakers from 13 countries provided 36 hours of continuing education over the four-day meeting. The speakers were both academics as well as private practitioners. Lectures were translated into both Spanish and German and live, simultaneous interpretation into both languages was provided. Using a social media app on smartphones and tablets, participants were able to ask and get questions answered by speakers and each other during and after the lectures. This is the first meeting at which I have seen this innovative, interactive technology in use and it sets the standard on which to base future meetings.

Vision therapy: Questions to ask

As you can probably tell, this was an amazing meeting, with great speakers and a family atmosphere. It was truly a coming together of the worldwide vision rehabilitation community. The good news is that the next meeting goes down under to Sydney. The bad news is that you have to wait four years until 2018. I am already looking at plane tickets!

Speaker country list:

• France

• U.S.

• Germany

• Canada

• Spain

• Australia

• UK

• Denmark

• Finland

• Norway

• Mexico

• Israel

• Hong Kong

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