Among all ophthalmic meetings, there is one that stands out

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Welcome to the Ophthalmic Project—a series of blogs and podcasts written and produced by Mark L. Dlugoss, senior contributing editor. The Ophthalmic Project will address trends, events, and observations in the world of ophthalmology. Dlugoss has about 25 years of experience covering the ophthalmic market

DlugossBy Mark L. Dlugoss
Senior Contributing Editor

Have you ever given thought to the number of conferences that exist in ophthalmology? There are plenty of them!

There are the major meetings, like the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) meeting, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meetings. Of course, if ophthalmologists want to stay ahead of the game, some conferences cater to a physician’s subspecialty. Then, if one throws in the number of regional and other specialty meetings, there are a lot of ophthalmic meetings that one could attend throughout the year.

With such a crowded professional calendar, what meetings should a physician attend? The major meetings are a no-brainer. Physicians need to hone their skills, and the major meetings offer that opportunity. One should then consider meetings that cater to their subspecialty—a definite “must.”

Between the major and subspecialty meetings, physicians usually receive enough clinical and business knowledge to enhance their practices and better treat their patients. On top of that, the person-to-person interaction between colleagues at those conferences is a priceless bonus!

However, there are smaller meetings that are different and unique. They offer a different perspective to help physicians become even better clinicians and provide additional education and knowledge not found at the major meetings. If you are a general ophthalmologist or glaucoma specialist, there is one meeting you should consider—The Glaucoma 360 meeting.

Glaucoma 360 is a series of three events presented by the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) over the course of a weekend, usually in late January or early February. Now in its 10th year, the meeting is dedicated to presenting the latest clinical advances in glaucoma and on building a collaboration of all participants in glaucoma to improve therapies for glaucoma patients.

In past years, Glaucoma 360 kicked off with the Annual Gala on Thursday night, which is GRF’s biggest fund-raiser event, to raise money and awareness to the organization’s research, education, and support programs. To date, over $5 million has been raised from the Gala for GRF’s efforts.

Attendees of the Annual Gala enjoy a night of fun that includes a banquet, a silent auction (with some incredible items from paintings to vacation trips to exotic wines, and more), and music. The Annual Gala also provides an opportunity for GRF to recognize individuals for their contributions in helping find a cure for glaucoma. The awards include the Catalyst Award (GRF’s highest honor), the Visionary Award, and the President’s Award. Each year, GRF also honors a vision scientist with the Shaffer Prize for innovation in glaucoma research.

On Friday, the Glaucoma 360 gets down to business with the New Horizons Forum. This day-long event unites clinical, industry, and financial leaders, as well as the FDA “in a unique exchange on research innovation and advances in glaucoma treatment.”

The New Horizons Forum consists of presentations and panel discussions featuring ophthalmic key opinion leaders, industry executives, venture capitalists, and the CEOs of start-up companies. This forum unites glaucoma leaders who are dedicated to accelerating new ideas in innovation and therapies for glaucoma and nurturing them to fruition.

Saturdays agenda is completely dedicated to the clinician. The morning session is the Glaucoma Symposium CME, which offers ophthalmologists a clinical program presented by key opinion leaders. The program features presentations on the latest advancements in glaucoma management, glaucoma surgery, and pharmaceuticals.

In the afternoon, GRF shifts the program for practicing optometrists, called the Optometric Glaucoma Symposium. Like the morning session for ophthalmologists, the program features and outlines the latest glaucoma advances for the optometrist.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this years meeting is virtual and is broken up into two separate weekends in late January. On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Glaucoma Symposium CME for ophthalmologists will be held in the morning, and the Optometric Glaucoma Symposium will follow in the afternoon.

The following weekend, Jan. 29-30, the Virtual Annual Gala will be held Friday night and the New Horizons Forum is scheduled for Saturday.

While this blog may come across as a promotion for Glaucoma 360, it really isnt the intention. It is more about alerting eye care clinicians to see the value of a good meeting. Glaucoma 360 was such a success in its initial meeting 10 years ago that attendance has continued to grow every year, and the quality of the agenda is growing with it.

Before Glaucoma 360, Thomas Brunner, president and CEO of GRF, always urged me to come to San Francisco and attend GRFs annual Glaucoma Symposium CME. He always mentioned that the quality of the content would make it worth my while to attend. Because of travel or other commitments, I was not able to fit the meeting into my schedule.

When GRF decided to develop the Glaucoma 360 concept, which merged the Glaucoma Symposium CME and its Annual Gala with a New Horizons Forum, Brunner and GRF asked if I would participate. I agree to attend and not only was I surprised by the quality content of the meeting, but the atmosphere of the meeting focused on how glaucoma clinicians and the ophthalmic industry could work together to bring about a possible cure for glaucoma.

Attendees not only learned about clinical information they could use immediately in their practices on Monday, they also had easy access to the shakers and movers in glaucoma, both clinically and within industry. There is a constant exchange of ideas, questions, and knowledge about glaucoma.

Now this year, it will difficult to replicate that face-to-face interaction that Glaucoma 360 presents because of COVID-19. However, if physicians have never thought about attending Glaucoma 360, or wondered if the meeting was worth the time and money to attend, this years virtual meeting at least provides the opportunity to witness the meeting firsthandwhile at homeand listen to the content presented. And thanks to the generosity of sponsors, there is no charge for registration this year. 

If you like what you see in those 2 weekend events, then when life gets back to normal, Glaucoma 360 may just become one of those MUST meetings to attend.

For more information about the Glaucoma 360 meeting, visit www.glaucoma.org/news/events/glaucoma-360.php or contact GRF by phone at 415-986-3162 or by email at [email protected].

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