ESCRS in Durban

ESCRS participates in meeting of Southern African Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

David Spalton

Posted: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

SASCRS President Frik Potgieter (centre) with Boris Malyugin, Rudy MMA Nuijts, David Spalton and Roberto Bellucci of the ESCRS

This year we had a first for the ESCRS when we were invited to run two sessions at the meeting of the Southern African Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery in Durban by Frik Potgieter (the current President). The meeting started on Wednesday with satellite meetings, going on to a full programme on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The SASCRS runs a thriving meeting keenly attended by their 400 members, with their membership extending up into the adjacent southern African states with a widely spread international contribution.

South Africa is a country not without problems. Personal security seems to be not far from anyone’s mind, corruption is rife and they suffer the increasing financial and regulatory constraints on practice just as we do in Europe, but the local surgeons are highly motivated and have an unrivalled experience of anterior segment surgery.

Their practices deal with gross trauma and pathology we very rarely see in the West with the advantage of First-World surgical facilities, a combination probably unique to South Africa. PowerVision are conducting the trials of the FluidVision accommodating IOL there, and I recall a case shown by Dr Potgieter of pellucid marginal degeneration that was so gross the patient could not close their lids over the cornea, a surgical challenge few of us will see.

On Saturday morning, the ESCRS presented a session on toric IOLs, with myself speaking on patient selection, formulas and surgically induced astigmatism, Roberto Bellucci on topography and postoperative adjustment, Rudy MMA Nuijts on surgical alignment, Vicky Katsanevaki on phakic toric IOLs and Boris Malyugin on irregular astigmatism. This was supplemented by each of us giving presentations in other sessions during the meeting.

The first ESCRS session was followed by a new format of ‘Dilemmas in Cataract Surgery’, in which we were joined by local surgeons Bill Nortje and Robert Stegmann, and we all presented a mixture of problem cases with a lively discussion on ‘what should/would you/I do next’. This was very enjoyable and constructive, but upstaged by Robert Stegmann’s following Kritzinger Lecture on a lifetime of virtuoso surgery in a bush hospital, amply illustrated with superb video, each case more exotic than the last.

South African friendliness and hospitality is legendary, and after the meeting many of us took the opportunity (self-financed of course) to go up to Phinda, a game reserve four hours north of Durban, which was a life-enhancing experience for me and everyone else.