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An intensive educational bonanza

You never know when you will discover something new at the ESCRS Congress

Soosan Jacob

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2019

Coming back year after year to the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ESCRS) has become a highlight of my academic career – a very pleasurable experience that I can compare to a visit to a beautiful and favourite garden. Even though the landscape is a pleasurable known experience that I look forward to, on every visit I still see new flowers, savour new fragrances, enjoy new outlooks. I get to meet old friends and strengthen friendships as well as make new acquaintances and friendships.

ESCRS gives me an opportunity to imbibe the atmosphere, walk alone, ponder and come up with new, exciting ideas.  At the same time, it also brings in a wealth of knowledge and the collective experience of a community of friends, colleagues and mentors all in one place and easily accessible – a perfect place to brainstorm. Similar to a beautiful garden that is always evolving and changing, I never know when I will discover something exhilaratingly new in a path that I thought was familiar.

I have found these meetings extremely inspiring – always giving me a fresh perspective each year; helping me Refocus, Recalibrate and Relax – reasons I love coming back to it year after year and I am sure this year, Paris, will also live up to my expectations!

Of course, just as a visit to the garden requires making the time and the preparation for it, so does ESCRS. Planning starts months before with submission of abstracts for instruction courses, free papers, posters, competitions so on. Videos need to be edited, data needs to be analysed and PowerPoints need to be made. Mundane details such as applying for visas, planning the travel, flights and hotel are unpleasant but need to be done. Scheduling surgeries and appointments, looking at family commitments and making sure neither work nor family is affected is always a fine balancing act that needs to be done.

The last day before the travel always seems to pass in a blur for me and before I know it, I am on the plane for a long journey across the oceans. Pleasantly, I always find many friends on the plane with me, all headed to ESCRS and that definitely helps in making the journey feel shorter.

The intensive educational bonanza in the form of symposia, instructional courses, wetlabs, free papers, video presentations etc. that is offered at the ESCRS has become very appealing to attendees not just from Europe but from all continents. Europe being easy to access and very pleasant to visit has led to a huge increase in the number of delegates year after year. The excellent trade and exhibition is another very good reason to attend.

Personally, ESCRS has been a wonderful experience for me right from the time I won the John Henahan Prize for Young Ophthalmologists in 2011, following which I started writing two very successful monthly columns – one titled “Everything you ever wanted to know about…” and another one on “Complications in Ophthalmic surgery” for EuroTimes, and have since also done many interviews on the very popular and educative Eye Contact video series of the ESCRS.

I always leave the ESCRS Congress with a spring in my step, my brain full of ideas to continue on in this wonderful journey of life as an ophthalmic surgeon. A beautiful garden is a labour of love and needs tending-to with care, affection and time. I have to congratulate the organisers of the ESCRS Congress for this wonderful meeting and thank every attendee for their contribution to the overall experience.