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EURETINA comes of age

Sebastian Wolf

Posted: Friday, September 21, 2018


This year marks a real coming of age for the European Society of Retina Specialists as we gather in Vienna to celebrate our 18th birthday. We have definitely come a long way since our first congress in 2001 where we welcomed 300 delegates in Hamburg, Germany. Last year in Barcelona, the number of delegates had grown to 5,000, making it the largest retina meeting in the world.
Why has EURETINA been so successful? I think two factors can be identified which help to explain the phenomenal growth of the Society. First of all, the environment has been very positive for retina. From around 2005 onwards, the introduction of anti-VEGF therapy sparked a revolution in the field of retina. Suddenly there was huge interest in treating patients with AMD and macular oedema with these ground-breaking new agents. This upsurge in interest helped to put retina at the forefront of ophthalmology and encouraged more young ophthalmologists to specialise in the field.
The second key factor was the concept of the congress itself, which sought to showcase cutting-edge research in retina while also providing quality education through courses and wet labs. The formula works very well, enabling delegates to attend main sessions and obtain a comprehensive overview of important developments as well as participating in specific courses to improve their surgical skills.
After years of dramatic growth, the goal now is to ensure a period of stable and sustainable development for EURETINA. With a healthy balance sheet and a solid organisational structure, we can take steps to give more back to our members and the wider retinal community.
To this end, we have increased our activity in education, introduced a successful winter meeting to the calendar and revamped our webpage with easier access to On Demand educational resources. We have also developed InSight, a new CME-accredited interactive learning platform for our members with a wide range of
courses on offer.
Another exciting innovation is the new EURETINA Player which showcases regular video updates and recorded expert interviews and panel discussions with key EURETINA contributors.

PRIORITISING RESEARCH

Research is another major priority for EURETINA. There is much that we can do to shed light on key questions of clinical practice that are beyond the scope of industry. With this in mind, we have recently teamed up with Fight for Sight to provide funding of up to
€2 million for clinical research to address the best treatment option for sub-macular haemorrhage caused by AMD. This is a major unanswered question in retina and we hope that this trial can start at the beginning of next year. We have also decided to fund other clinical research for European-based non-interventional studies and will be unveiling details on how young researchers can apply for such funding in the near future.
Another goal of my term of presidency has been to make EURETINA more environmentally sustainable. We have introduced eco-friendly delegate bags for the first time in Vienna and will also be using recycled paper for the programme and all official printed handouts. We will also continue to transition as much as possible to new electronic platforms which will further reduce our ecological footprint.
Looking to the future, it is probable that we will host our last combined meeting with the ESCRS in 2020. While the collaboration with the ESCRS has been extremely fruitful and we are very grateful for all their support, the delegate numbers for both organisations have become too large to make this sustainable going forward. Nevertheless, we are confident that with your support EURETINA will continue to serve the best interests of its members in the years ahead.

*Sebastian Wolf was interviewed by EuroTimes Contributing Editor Dermot McGrath