APAO 2021 Days 2 & 3: Where do Koalas go on Holiday?

Welcome back: Take a seat, put up your feet, and enjoy Days 2 and 3 of the 36th Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Virtual Congress (APAO 2021), streaming straight into your office or living room, all the way from virtual Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Normally when writing these articles, I come up with a musical reference, usually a line from a song about the host city, but my esteemed colleague began her “Roving Reporter” piece on Day 1 with a heartwarming reference to a beloved children’s book by Dr. Seuss. Allow me then to please utterly ruin her good work by making a terrible pun about the Malaysian capital:

“Do you know where koala bears like to go on holiday? Koala Lumpur.”

You do like puns, said Andy, I am. You like puns more than green eggs and ham. You do like puns here or there, in clinics, or surgery, or in labs, beware. (Editor’s note: Andrew, are you okay, man?)

Here’s looking at you kid

Okay, so let’s move away from Dr. Seuss and the bad puns — even though they are fun. Now, onto the business, as the last two days have been full ophthalmic content for us to consume. One of the more heartwarming moments occurred during the Miscellaneous: YO Symposium on Day 3, when Associate Prof. Marcus Ang of the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) was interrupted repeatedly by his daughter during his opening remarks. Media MICE shares her enthusiasm and need for attention, kudos to you kid.

One of the later symposiums on the same day, Comprehensive Management of Ocular Complications of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis in Asians, was a real blockbuster with several senior ophthalmologists presenting. The symposium bore witness to a marathon presentation by Dr. Hon Shing Ong, also from SNEC, who gave a highly interesting presentation entitled Cataract Surgery in Cicatrising Conjunctivitis. He provided insight on adjunctive treatments, recommendations on local or general anesthetic, cataract classification, post-operative considerations, and more. This is well worth a watch.

Day 3 didn’t take up all of the limelight, however, as Day 2 also had a number of superlative seminars for consumption. Cell therapy is one of the leading fields in medical research at the moment, so we were glad to be able to view a session that addressed this exciting topic. Translational and Visual Sciences Research: Cell Therapy examined the latest pre-clinical and clinical developments in cell therapies based on cell manipulation, cellular reprogramming and research.

One of the standout presentations of this seminar was Tissue Engineering & Cell Therapy, which focused on aspects of corneal endothelial cell therapy. Presented by Dr. Gary Peh, PhD, from Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), this report examined cell delivery approaches, tissue-engineered endothelial keratoplasty and cryopreservation, among other issues. Make sure to check out this presentation on-demand if you want to learn more about cell therapy and corneas.

COVID-19 vaccines don’t take over your mind

It wouldn’t be a Media MICE Roving Reporter article without also highlighting some of the best posters, videos and other exhibits during the Congress. With many countries in the midst of vaccination campaigns — and with controversy raging about the subject in others — it was fitting that we came across one presentation that examined the issue from an ophthalmological perspective. 6th Nerve Palsy Following COVID-19 Vaccination examined a 60-year-old man who presented with sudden onset horizontal diplopia.

The patient’s best-corrected visual acuity was 6/6 in both eyes, his anterior segment examination was unremarkable, and a fundus examination came back normal with no evidence of papilledema. Further investigation found no cause, however, the doctor realized “the only positive history” was an Astrazeneca (AZ) vaccine for COVID-19, which was administered two days prior to the onset of diplopia. According to the author of the poster, Dr. Arpitha Pereira from Narayana Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Bengaluru, India, that the Oxford/AZ COVID-19 vaccine could cause 6th nerve palsy.

It’s important to note that complications from vaccines are exceedingly rare, and have nothing to do with the desire of tech giants and others to take over your mind, or your life. People are often afraid of new technology and the same applies to artificial intelligence (AI) — especially if you watched Terminator when you were too young. What if, however, you could use AI to establish the link between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and glaucoma?

That was the question postulated in Association between Alzheimer’s Disease and Artificial Intelligence-Based Glaucomatous Optic Neuropathy (GON), presented by several researchers and led by Dr. Anran Emma Ran from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. While finding that there was no significant difference in AI-based GON scores between AD and cognitively normal subjects, Dr. Ran emphasized that further research is still warranted to confirm the null association between AD and GON. So could we be testing grandma for the early signs of dementia in the near future? When it comes to this subject, we can certainly say that “we’ll be back…”

On a final note, we would like to draw your attention to some of the social events being held as part of the APAO 2021 Virtual Congress, as they promise to be rather entertaining. Don’t miss the APAO 60th Birthday Anniversary Song on Wednesday at 19:15 MYT, the Yo: Eye Yoba Ball on Thursday at the same time, and the Virtual Concert on Friday, again at the same time. Be there, or you shall kindly be square.

Until then, we will be back with more coverage of one of the year’s most comprehensive and interesting conferences. Check back in with our show dailies, as well as our online articles which you can find on the PIE and CAKE magazine websites. In the meantime, warm up your vocal cords for the song content tomorrow, and remember to annoy your patients with the koala bear joke.

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