Annual Cornea Society and Eye Bank Meeting in Perth
At the start of March, I was asked to present at the 32nd Annual Cornea Society and Eye Bank Meeting in Perth. This conference is held every year in Australia or New Zealand and is attended by the top corneal specialists and researchers from here and across the Tasman. This is always a great meeting with the focus being on new developments in corneal surgery, the latest in corneal research and current controversies in clinical practice. I was a co-presenter of a lecture entitled ‘Keratoconus and cataract surgery’ with my colleague – and one of Melbourne’s leading corneal specialists – Dr Ben Connell.
There were some outstanding presentations at the meeting. Professor Dipika Patel from New Zealand delivered a fantastic lecture in which she gave an update on the research into building a biosynthetic cornea. Dipika’s name will be familiar to those of you who read the special edition of Clinical and Experimental Optometry devoted entirely to keratoconus that was published a couple of years ago, as she was a co-author on a number of papers in this special issue. The need to develop a biosynthetic cornea is incredibly important when you consider a country like China, where there are 5 million people each year who need corneal transplants however there are only 3 thousand donor corneas annually. At this stage, the main issues with developing a biosynthetic cornea are keeping it clear (avoiding scarring) and preventing rejection of the new cornea.
Professor Gerard Sutton from Sydney gave an interesting talk on the small incision corneal refractive surgery using the small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) procedure, which is the latest innovation in refractive surgery for elimination of myopia and myopic astigmatism. As well as being a co-author with myself (and Michael Loughnan and Jim Kokkinakis) on the book ‘A user’s manual for people with keratoconus’, Gerard is a brilliant clinician and surgeon, as well as being an all-round good guy. Unlike LASIK, this new procedure is performed without a flap. A femtosecond laser is used to create a lenticule inside the intact cornea, which can then be extracted through a small incision. The potential main advantage with the SMILE procedure is that it may lead later on to less corneal surface problems – such as dry eye – due to the less invasive nature of the surgery.