Thirteen Reasons Why
Nuno Moura-Coelho MD, MMed, FEBO
In June 25 and June 26, 2022, Athens welcomed nearly 450 ophthalmologists from 36 countries dedicated to corneal and ocular surface disease, at the 13th EuCornea Congress. In my positions of co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of EuCornea and member of the organizing committee of this congress, and an attendee of several past editions of EuCornea Congress, thirteen aspects have made this event special, and illustrative of the bright future of EuCornea.
1. First in-person, independent venue and conference:
Since its inception, the EuCornea Society has sought to independently promote the exchange of high-level scientific knowledge and practical skills for ophthalmologists and corneal surgeons worldwide. The first two independent EuCornea Congress meetings were forcefully held in online format, due to restraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the return to an in-person conference model was a particular ambition of the organizing committee. The uncertainty related to the ongoing pandemic was gladly overcome by the exceedingly high number of registered attendees who made their presence felt in the conference.
2. High-quality scientific programme and content:
The 13th EuCornea Congress had a carefully arranged Scientific Programme, ensuring that an equal emphasis was given to both the current standards of corneal disease care and to the future of corneal disease management. The Programme aimed to be captivating, informative, and to bring the most up-to-date, highest level of quality data. The 1.5-day format of the Congress also encouraged the attendees to participate in the sessions throughout the full duration of the event.
3. Opening Ceremony: EuCornea Medal Lecture
After the Official Opening Ceremony Speech by Professor Georgios Kymionis, President of EuCornea, Professor Vincenzo Sarnicola, Past President of EuCornea, received the EuCornea Medal from Professor Kymionis, and delivered an outstanding Lecture on the surgical management of Acanthamoeba keratitis.
4. YO / Senior Hot Topics Sessions – innovative, daring, re-shaping
For the first time, the EuCornea Congress included two Main Sessions entitled “YO / Senior Hot Topics Sessions”, where younger corneal specialists had the opportunity to present their own cases and to discuss the management of several conditions with senior experts in the field. These sessions focused on four main topics: management of post-keratoplasty astigmatism, neurotrophic keratopathy, inflammatory/infectious keratitis, and management of detached endothelial graft. This format aimed to combine a strong didactic component with the opportunity to closer interact with the audience, as the audience was proactively encouraged to participate. These two sessions were innovative and quite acclaimed by the audience, pointing the way forward: this new format is bound
to re-shape future conferences, not only EuCornea Congress but certainly other ophthalmology meetings as well.
5. Free Paper Sessions
The scientific programme included three free paper sessions: Lamellar Keratoplasty; Corneal Imaging / New Treatments; and Graft Management. The organization received a very high number of submissions of Abstracts for Free Papers, which were carefully reviewed, and which gave us the assurance that attendees would be delivered the best-quality, relevant talks during these sessions. Unsurprisingly, the Free Paper Sessions had a very high attendance and an intense participation by the speakers, the moderators, and the audience.
6. Keynote Lectures
Each Free Paper session was initiated by a Keynote Lecture of the highest quality: Professor Marc Labetoulle talked about the prevention of herpetic keratitis in corneal surgery patients; Professor Mario Nubile discussed neurotrophic keratopathy; and Professor Jesper Hjortdal presented data on vaccination and corneal graft rejection. These keynote lectures provided great insight into complex corneal conditions.
We noticed a pleasingly high number of submissions of E-Posters and Case Presentations, highlighting that these are excellent platforms to disseminate scientific research and knowledge, especially by residents and young ophthalmologists.
8. EuCornea Scientific Awards
The organizing committee of the 13th EuCornea Congress was committed to acknowledge the high-quality of the scientific research submitted by the attendees, and so Best Free Papers and the Best Posters of the Congress were awarded at the Closing Remarks Session.
9. Journal of EuCornea
The Journal of EuCornea is a young, revamped journal with the goal to be the relevant journal for the research of cornea and ocular surface disease in Europe. The Journal of EuCornea’s aims mirror those of the EuCornea Society, and so the Journal had a standout position during this event, including a booth for attendees to learn about the Journal. The authors of accepted E-Posters and Free Papers are strongly encouraged to consider submission of their studies to the journal, where they will undergo a thorough reviewing process to ensure their quality. Publishing in the J EuCornea will increase the visibility of those interesting studies presented at the Congress.
10. Integration of local ophthalmologists
Mirroring the EuCornea Society’s mission of actively involve European corneal specialists, the 13th EuCornea Congress included a vast panel of local corneal specialists and promoted the attendance and participation of young Greek ophthalmologists, who indeed were “up to the challenge”.
11. Instructional Courses
The Congress included three highly interactive instructional courses (IC): “Common corneal procedures” by Professor Harminder Dua and Professor Dalia Said, “Corneal Imaging” by Professor Beatrice Cochener-Lamard, and “Corneal Suturing & Gluing” by Professor Harminder Dua and Professor Dalia Said. ICs are one of the best didactic tools at ophthalmology meetings, bringing together experts with wide clinical and surgical experience and younger ophthalmologists, in an environment that promotes this exchange of knowledge.
12. COST Action CA-18116 ANIRIDIA-Net Session
2022 has been an exciting year for pushing forward aniridia research, and the EuCornea Society was not indifferent to it. Besides, the EuCornea Society has enjoyed a strong connection with the COST ANIRIDIA-Net members. The COST Action CA-18116 ANIRIDIA-Net Session reunited an extraordinary panel of corneal specialists with ample experience in the management of this complex, panocular condition, and talked about the latest research on this disease and of the challenges and opportunities in ocular surface impact of the disease.
13. Planning ahead: 14th EuCornea Congress official announcement
The new format of in-person, independent EuCornea Congress has come to stay. The official announcement of the 14th EuCornea Congress in 2023 (to be held in Barcelona) was a valuable achievement for EuCornea and its members.
The 13th EuCornea Congress met the mission statement of the EuCornea Society with excellency. We believe that Athens has been the birthplace of the flourishing future of EuCornea and European corneal specialists. The next editions of EuCornea Congress will bring new challenges, starting with the “fortunate” challenge of meeting or surpassing the standards of this year’s edition.
And we thank the attendees, for this Congress was conceived for them.