ESCRS Day 4: Tot ziens and Beware of Bitterballens!

It might come as a surprise to you, but did you know that attending a medical conference could be fraught with danger? Sadly, it’s true as your correspondent can attest to that. He’s currently writing this article from his hotel bed after spending much of the night awake with food poisoning. 

Having popped out for a quick meal yesterday evening, now presently humbled, with one important maxim on his lips — ‘beware of the bitterballen’!

The Dutch bar snack was too much for this poor writer, and the bitterballen (imagine a sort of thick beef soup that’s deep-fried in balls the size of falafel) may have been too salty for his already delicate stomach. Luckily, however, the last day of the 39th Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS 2021) was all online, so he was able to follow the action without leaving his bed. 

Not exactly the best way to end an enjoyable trip to the Dutch capital, of course. But it is what it is. Luckily, there was still enough content at ESCRS to distract your writer from his woes.

The kids have keratoconus 

One of the most interesting symposiums held on Monday morning was Expanding Applications of Corneal Cross-Linking and Early Detection of Keratoconus. A number of clinicians dialed in to present — whether in person or online, and one of the standout presentations was given by Dr. Samer Hamada of the Eye Clinic London. 

His report, Childhood Keratoconus: Diagnosis and Treatment, was highly insightful, offering an awesome take on a serious childhood condition.

Dr. Hamada reported that several challenges exist in treating childhood keratoconus, including underdiagnosis and associated delays, poor patient compliance, and management challenges — such as acceleration progression and co-morbidities like vernal keratoconjunctivitis. 

He emphasized the importance of screening patients, especially those with astigmatism, and looking out for risk factors, including atrophy and eye rubbing. To achieve visual function improvement, he recommended glasses and lens, amblyopic treatment if required, and, in several cases, deep lamellar as well as penetrating keratoplasty.

Treating trauma in the kids

You’ll know by now that we have a penchant for the rare and weird when it comes to conference posters, and we couldn’t resist highlighting one of these on the ESCRS’s last day. 

Different Mechanics and Casual Agent of Eye Traumatism in Children: About 105 Cases was one such poster. Compiled by a group of African doctors led by speaker Dr. Ihssan Hasnaoui from Rabat, Morocco, the poster examined 105 subjects for the causes of their ocular trauma.

The researchers found that the leading cause of known ocular trauma amongst the children, who were on average six years old, was stones at 23%, wooden sticks at 15%, and knife injuries at 10%. 

Complications that most frequently occurred following ocular trauma include traumatic cataracts at 28%, hyphema at 21%, and Berlin edema at 5%. 

In concluding their poster, the researchers emphasized the importance of early and appropriate management, and that follow-up and treatment of secondary amblyopia are important.

3,000 guests equal 3,000 new friends

All in all, the 39th ESCRS Congress was estimated to have welcomed around 3,000 guests during the duration of the event, with dozens of companies being in attendance along with hundreds of doctors and other medical professionals. 

Whether or not major, real-world events become the norm again in our industry remains to be seen. But we certainly hope so — as nothing can beat the hubbub of an event like the last few days. The hybrid format will be here to stay, of course, and its benefits for seminars and symposiums are obvious, but so too are those for real-life meetings.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our reporting during the ESCRS 2021 Congress, as well as our content from the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS 2021) Scientific Meeting, which was held at about the same time in San Antonio, Texas. 

We also wish that you’ll also join us when we cover the next upcoming conferences in eye care, at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in New Orleans, and beyond. To keep yourself updated on all the upcoming ophthalmology events, make sure to follow our CEO Matt Young on his Linkedin Page (Go ahead and connect; he’ll accept your LinkedIn connection request!)

In the meantime, tot ziens from Amsterdam! And remember to always be careful of those salty bitter balls!

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