Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress (APAO) is held annually, rotating to a different destination in the region each year.
The congress aims to shine a spotlight on the full spectrum of eye disease and vision problems, and offer something to everyone working in eye care.
The Sydney congress attracted over 4,000 delegates from 67 different countries to listen to over 700 speakers and view more than 2,000 presentations and posters.
Australia’s long history of world-class expertise in clinical practice and ophthalmological research made Sydney an ideal host for the congress.
Many exciting advances in the field of eye health were unveiled when more than 4,000 delegates from 67 countries converged on Sydney in March 2011 for the 26th Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress (APAO). One of the biggest eye health conferences ever held in Australia, the congress brought together ophthalmologists, orthoptists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, other allied eye-health professionals and ophthalmic industry representatives from throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
700 speakers and more than 2,000 presentations and posters covered the full spectrum of eye disease and vision problems provided a comprehensive and robust scientific program and Mr John Deeth, Executive Director APAO Sydney 2011 and Manager Congresses and Communications of the host organisation, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), said the Congress gave specialists a wonderful opportunity to update and share their knowledge and skills.
“We had a most impressive program covering all aspects of ophthalmology, with several innovative sessions delivered by renowned national and international speakers. It provided delegates with the latest information on advances in clinical practice and cutting edge research, and the chance for unrivalled up-skilling in knowledge and techniques,” Mr Deeth said.
Australia and New Zealand have a long history of world-class expertise in clinical practice and ophthalmological research, making Australia’s number one business events destination, Sydney, an ideal host for the congress.
“We are proud of the role we’ve played in bringing together so many specialists to share their knowledge, which will ultimately lead to better patient care throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond,” Mr Deeth said.
“Just some of the many advances unveiled included research showing that a drug, which has been around for 30 years, can be used to slow the progress of vision damage caused by diabetes by up to 40%; a new procedure in corneal transplant surgery, whereby only the diseased layers of the cornea are replaced, rather than the whole cornea, which leaves the wound more secure, the structure of the eye stronger and the eye closer to its original shape; new rehabilitation methods for people who have suffered some peripheral vision loss, to help them drive a car safely when previously they would not have been able to qualify; and a simple new eye test to diagnose nerve damage resulting from diabetes, which is the most common cause of foot ulcers and amputations,” added Mr Deeth.
“These are exciting developments in our field, and we are delighted that the discussions and collaboration among delegates will continue to support future advances and advocacy in eye health.”
Highlights of the conference included the opening ceremony that showcased the musical talents of several College Fellows who gave a rendition of Waltzing Matilda on harmonica and French horn.
“The opening ceremony was hugely successful. One of the most moving aspects was an inspirational address by Professor Ron McCallum, AO – the first totally blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship at an Australian university and named Senior Australian of the Year this year. He spoke eloquently on his blindness and the positivity of his life, referring to the advances in medical science which would help avoid the circumstances that resulted in his blindness at birth 62 years ago,” Mr Deeth said.
The Congress Party – open to all attendees – was also considered a night to remember. From Chinese dragons to Bollywood dancers and flaming barmen it offered something for everyone. “We just about had to drag people away following the final act of the featured performer, Lisa Grant,” commented Mr Deeth.
Other highlights included the pre-Congress inaugural Ophthalmic Educators’ Conference attended by more than 100 people from 12 countries; the announcement of the official formation of The Asia Pacific Glaucoma Society, between three Asia Pacific glaucoma groups; and the presentation of a number of prestigious awards to outstanding individuals in the field.
A sophisticated industry exhibition was also on offer for delegates, with eight major sponsors and 105 exhibiting organisations occupying up to 15,000 square metres of space, demonstrating the latest technologies and instrumentation available to help ophthalmologists better serve their patients.
For many delegates, this was the first trip to Sydney and most took the opportunity to explore the city and beyond through a selection of day tours and pre and post tours to iconic travel locations including Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and Kakadu.
“We had tremendously positive feedback from delegates on the Congress and on their experiences in Sydney. Some said it was the best conference they had ever attended and many said they would definitely return to Sydney in the future,” Mr Deeth said.
Asked what he thought were the main ingredients of the success of the Congress, Mr Deeth said, “We had a small, but very strong, and experienced organising committee, which included Clinical Associate Professor Ivan Goldberg as Congress Chair, Professor Frank Martin AM as Chair of Sponsorship and Exhibition and Professor McGhee as Scientific Program Chair. We also had full confidence in, and a great working relationship with, ICMS Australasia as Congress Managers. And we knew that what we wanted to achieve was to give those attending a rewarding experience, both scientifically and socially. From all accounts, we did just that. As it was when we hosted the World Ophthalmology Congress in 2002, we gave the international ophthalmic community a congress to remember.”
“We appreciate the advice, support and huge effort offered by the many people involved in coordinating the event, including our many service providers and others working in the background, such as Business Events Sydney,” Mr Deeth concluded.