Editorial from Professor Sebastian Wolf- Phenomenal Growth
Patient demand has had a major effect on the power of the lenses we provide
This year marks the 18th anniversary of the European Society of Retina Specialists. EURETINA’s timeline began in 2000, with its inaugural meeting welcoming 300 delegates. In the years since, it has experienced phenomenal growth to almost 5,000 delegates, establishing it as the largest retina meeting in the world.
EURETINA’s activities span outside of its main congress, and it also hosts a successful Winter Meeting, this year in Budapest in February. Another recent development for EURETINA saw the launch of YOURS, a new initiative focusing on the pressing issues and needs of Young Retina Specialists. Within the first few months of this initiative being launched the society saw more than 300 new trainee subscriptions for YOURS membership. This demonstrates the need for such an important initiative and secures the input of younger voices at the congress and across all society activities.
In a world with an increasing focus on online education, the EURETINA website is undergoing something of an upgrade. The online newsletter ‘EURETINA Brief’, On Demand and the popular eLearning platform ‘inSight’ remain valuable features of the society’s digital presence. Meanwhile, the newly launched ‘EURETINA Player’ allows visitors to enjoy studio-recorded video interviews with renowned experts in retina. We are excited to unveil a new design for the website very soon, which will offer improved functionality and a fresh and exciting user experience.
It is not just EURETINA that has experienced phenomenal growth since the year 2000. The developments seen in diagnosis and treatment of retinal diseases have also been dramatic. One example of revolutionary development in retinal diagnostics during the lifespan of EURETINA is optical coherence tomography (OCT). In the year 2000 OCT instruments were available only in specialised centres and the discussion at the time was whether or not OCT technology would be helpful for managing patients with retinal disease. Today, OCT is used for diagnostic, monitoring and treatment decisions in a large variety of retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular occlusion, vitreo-retinal interface diseases and macular dystrophies.
The OCT technology not only allows for imaging retinal structure, it also enables us to image the retinal blood flow. In the field of treatments for retinal disease, the development of anti-VEGF therapy revolutionised the treatment outcome in many macular diseases. Since the approval of anti-VEGF therapy in 2006, patients with exudative AMD, macular oedema secondary to vascular disease and other pathologies can be treated successfully with intravitreal anti-VEGF drugs. This new treatment modality has resulted in increased interest in retinal disease, a growing number of retinal specialists and a great need for exchange of knowledge and education. The EURETINA congresses have served this need by providing an excellent overview of new developments in retinal disease.
We are very much looking forward to the 18th EURETINA Congress in Vienna, which is sure to provide an excellent platform for education and knowledge transfer. The program will cover all important subjects in vitreo-retinal disease and will give an update on actual developments in retinal diseases. The 18th Congress will be held in combination with the 36th Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) and the 9th EuCornea Congress, making the meeting in Vienna an exciting platform for international exchange between sub-specialties.
- Sebastian Wolf is President of EURETINA