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ASCRS planning for a tough future

Howard Larkin

Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020


ASCRS President Terry Kim and outgoing president Nick Mamalis

The SARS-CoV-2 virus cast an enormous shadow over the first-ever American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Virtual Annual Meeting. Indeed, it was the reason the originally scheduled meeting didn’t take place on site in Boston, USA, this weekend.

With patient volumes down nearly 80 per cent, ophthalmology is among the hardest hit medical specialties in the USA, noted incoming ASCRS President Terry Kim MD, of Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA. Though many feel anxious and frustrated, “it’s time to coalesce as a profession,” he said.

To that end, ASCRS and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are working closely to assist ophthalmologists in reopening and tailoring their practices to address the new realities. Efforts range from developing protocols for seeing patients remotely when possible and with appropriate social distancing and infection control in person, to working with government and payers to finance the innovations required.

Among these is developing a government payment scheme for same-day bilateral immediate sequential cataract surgery, which Dr Kim noted could reduce the resources required for surgery by about 30 per cent. Currently, pay is reduced for same-day bilateral procedures, so it is rarely practiced.

Outgoing ASCRS President Nick Mamalis, of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA, announced that the newly formed ASCRS Research Council will be launching a large multicentre study of intracameral antibiotics to prevent endophthalmitis. The effort is aimed at both putting questions about the technique to rest, and encouraging development of and FDA-approved preparation.