MATT_EUROPE wrap up THUMBNAIL

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

This year’s first quarter is about to end, and it was a mash-up between solitude and socializing, with a new emphasis on health.

The quarter for me was bookended by Japan – a family ski trip in Nagano in January, and the 3rd EVO ICL™ APAC Experts Summit in Okinawa in March. 

On the journey to Nagano, I spent Christmas night alone in Kyoto, as I had to move some of our family luggage to a new hotel by train and be back by morning (we travel the opposite of light). After a day of family presents and merriment, the solitude in a hotel onsen preceded the best sleep “Santa Claus” had in recent memory.

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
Media MICE Matt runs a half marathon with Mighty Mouse

In February was Winter ESCRS in Frankfurt, and shortly thereafter 100% Optical in London. Landing in Frankfurt, jetlag had me tossing and turning, and I did what any sane person would do on a sleepless second night: got up and ran a half marathon. Sunrise wasn’t until well after 7 am, and much of the run was spent in a pitch-black forested area, lit up as necessary by my phone flashlight. The darkness should have been creepy, but it was liberating.

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
Matt skiing in Innsbruck, Austria

Before 100% Optical, I took the train down to Innsbruck, Austria, for three days of skiing alone. The first, at Axamer Lizum (gotta love these Austrian resort names), was in thick fog and felt a bit treacherous. It was nothing compared to the second day at St. Anton, in the best powder of my life and off piste, but with stern avalanche warnings on posted signs. The final day in Kuhtai brought out the beauty of being in a valley, surrounded by snowcapped mountains on all sides. It was a different kind of whiteout than the fog, and gave the sense one was breathing in mountain rather than air. 

March began with four punches to the face in Da Nang, and a few to the ribs. I got into my first kickboxing fight, and my jaw is still sore weeks later. Except for that, I’m in the best shape I have been for a long time, and so it otherwise feels great. Whitewater kayaking in Vietnam in Q1 put this new shape to use, as I headed over Class IV+ whitewater falls in deep jungle. 

Since 2015, I have yo-yoed with my weight, turning to various diets but always putting it back on. With a renewed spirit of adventure and travel – sometimes in solitude, and in community – I have found a reason to get into better shape and keep it that way. 

Meanwhile, here are some of m’eye friends who helped cheer on either a new healthy life outlook, or vision health in general, and our times together at conferences. 

ESCRS Executive Team

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Prior to Winter ESCRS, my meeting with the ESCRS Executive Team was inspiring. This was where friend Burkhard Dick asked for proof if I were to run a half marathon to Hanau, and so I had a selfie for him ready with a bridge in Hanau days later. Moreover, we discussed our ESCRS Digital Media Partnership, and what exciting new developments are in store for this year. I also learned of the ESCRS’s summer Africa trip, in which they will monitor charitable giving there. Concluding business, we were all set to socialize, and that we did. We enjoyed a tour of early German history organized by Burkhard, some hors d’oeuvres at his apartment for ESCRS leadership, and various dinners, including the President’s Dinner (plus of course dancing the night away on sore half-marathon legs!). 

Domenic von Planta

Dinner with Domenic on Valentine’s Day was a laugh, as we both did thorough checking with our wives to ensure matrimony would continue after. Fortunately, we made it happen, as the local German food was great and we were well fed in advance of the ESCRS tour of the SCHWIND eye-tech-solutions (Kleinostheim, Germany) headquarters. That tour was a walk down history lane, by the way, as Domenic gave a great overview of Schwind “setting the pace of innovation for 30 years,” with first Schwind laser surgery performed in 1992, the launch of the AMARIS: TotalTech laser in 2007, and the ATOS (femtosecond laser and lenticule extraction) winning a German innovation award in 2021. 

Stéphane Mendras

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Friend Stephane, of Twenty/Twenty Therapeutics (California, USA), flagged me down on the street down from the Winter ESCRS convention center in Frankfurt. I was surprised he recognized me as my colorful jacket was underneath this winter coat. Twenty/Twenty, meanwhile is launching a litany of devices, from virtual reality to enhance patient engagement, to smart eye droppers to boost compliance. 

Lars Michael

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Lars and I “grew up” together in the industry in Asia – he was in Hong Kong while I was in Singapore. So we were kind of like expat brothers from other Asian country-mothers. Nowadays, Lars is back living in Germany and is director of global sales at OCULUS Optikgeräte GmbH (Wetzlar, Germany). One of their latest products is the GONIO ready®, which makes two-handed MIGS possible. It’s part of the “ready” family, as the BIOM ready also provides a single-use wide angle viewing system for the retinal surgeon. 

Dr. Detlef Holland

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

I always enjoy seeing friend Dr. Detlef Holland around, and am especially looking forward to hopefully seeing him again at the DOC congress in Nuremberg this year. Last year, we had the best time at the Teleon boathouse party, cutting a rug. Besides that, Dr. Holland is an excellent eye surgeon in practice at Augenzentrum ONE, which he has owned since 2020. Also, Dr. Holland is a really hip guy, which explains the title of a paper he co-authored in 2013: Rock ‘n’ roll phacoemulsification technique: noncracking and nonchopping approach.* 

*Uthoff D, Holland D, Herbst T, Foerster J, Rüfer F, Pölzl M. Rock ‘n’ roll phacoemulsification technique: noncracking and nonchopping approach. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2013;39(11):1636-1639

Nick Smith

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Nick Smith is always good for a laugh, and has been an industrious lad over the years. He formed part of the core team that was Malosa, and was acquired by BVI Medical (Massachusetts, USA) some years back. Now, spearheading efforts in Europe on behalf of Sight Sciences (California, USA). Reviewing the Sight Sciences portfolio, I must say I’m intrigued by the FDA-approved TearCare system, which “utilizes both wearable and smart technology that is intended for the application of localized heat therapy in adult patients with evaporative dry eye disease due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).” Check out the website at Tearcare.com for more info on this fascinating product. 

But technically, that which is buzzing in Europe right now with CE mark under the new EU Medical Device Regulation is the Ergo-Series of the OMNI Surgical System in Europe, “a technology that facilitates surgeons’ ability to perform minimally invasive, implant-free glaucoma procedures in adults with open-angle glaucoma.” This, in fact, was launched at Winter ESCRS.

Basak Deveci

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Basak and I technically had our 9th reunion at Winter ESCRS, as we originally met at Winter ESCRS in Istanbul in 2015. She struck me as the absolute kindest exhibitor back then, making sure I got a whole box of Turkish delight– a candy that was a highlight of a childhood favorite novel, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Today, she works in Germany for Biotech Healthcare (Ahmedabad, India), which has a range of solutions across the cataract, vitreoretinal and refractive portfolio, including the featured Eyecryl Sert, which is a hydrophobic acrylic aspheric IOL.

Manuela Sutter-Meler

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Manuela has been a friend at Haag-Streit for many years, and currently she is the director of international sales and business development for Haag-Streit Simulation, which is a critical component now of the company (Haag-Streit Group, Bern, Switzerland). “Eye specialists and medical students all over the world train their diagnostic and surgical skills on virtual reality simulators from Haag-Streit—without putting stress or risks on patients,” according to Haag-Streit. “By providing a highly immersive experience and validated best practice training concepts, Haag-Streit Simulation is working at the leading edge of virtual reality in medicine.”

Dr. Gerd Auffarth

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

With a couple decades now behind our friendship, Dr. Gerd Auffarth also is an excellent source of research news. At Winter ESCRS, he provided some of his new research updates that were mind blowing, namely 1) A totally new IOL material from China being researched, 2) a new glaucoma delivery device that is reminiscent of a Capsular Tension Ring in design, and 3) artificial vitreous and other posterior segment research developments, which is fascinating as Gerd is not just an anterior segment kind of guy. More of some of these hot topics will be coming out soon in CAKE and PIE magazines, so stay tuned. 

Rayner Team

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

As always, it was wonderful hanging out with friends at Rayner (Worthing, United Kingdom). We are especially excited for the company as it is the 75th Anniversary of the IOL this year, as Rayner claims a major footnote to ophthalmic history. On November 29, 1949, Harold Ridley implanted the first intraocular lens. Ridley, along with John Pike of Rayner and John Holt of ICI, designed the first IOL. “Not only will Ridley’s invention provide superior visual rehabilitation to cataract patients for generations to come, but also, without his having realized it, the IOL has been a major factor in changing the way ophthalmology is practiced,” wrote Barry Jay, Editor, Survey of Ophthalmology in 1996, celebrating the 45th anniversary back then. Thirty years later, the statement is all the more true, with IOLs of every variety being the core product in the ophthalmology industry.

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
At The ESCRS President’s Dinner with the Rayner crew.

Brad Fundingsland

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
With Brad Fundingsland (opposite me) and ESCRS leadership at dinner

I heard more about the founding of The Fundingsland Group (California, USA) over dinner with Brad and the ESCRS Executive leadership. As student alumni of Northwestern and staff “alumni” of ASCRS, Brad and I share a lot of common educational history. So when he talks about ophthalmic education, I find a kindred spirit and is so pleased to be supporting ESCRS along with The Fundingsland Group this year. 

Dr. Wolfgang J. Mayer

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

During my interview with Wolfgang at the Rayner booth, I learned that he is from Innsbruck, Austria – the area I was due to ski the Austrian Alps for the first time. We spoke off camera of how skiing is a true test for excellent optics, and how certain patients with that lifestyle would benefit from advanced IOLs. Once I got to Innsbruck, Wolfgang also gave me some helpful tips about the area via WhatsApp. P.S. Thanks Wolfgang! Here are some pics of me enjoying your mountains…

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Dr. Artemis Matsou

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

It was awesome meeting Artemis at ESCRS. As part of the ESCRS Committee, Artemis really seems to represent the youthful, intelligent enthusiasm that has become a hallmark of the society. Her fashion sense also is second to none. Look out for this star that continues to rise at the next meeting. 

Matt Coleman

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

It has been a pleasure to see Matt help advance the vision for Elios Vision (California, USA). Of course, Elios uniquely uses an excimer laser to treat glaucoma at the time of cataract surgery. It uses excimer laser light technology to work on the trabecular meshwork, supporting outflow of aqueous, and is CE-marked in Europe.

Dr. Morgan Micheletti

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Speaking of which, I ran into Morgan – the fascinating host of The History of Eyecare podcast – at Winter ESCRS, and subsequently learned that he also has been performing advanced MIGS using the Elios device. “This technology offers a minimally invasive approach to glaucoma treatment and enhanced patient outcomes,” Morgan reported. 

Drs. Masara Laginaf and Purvi Thomson

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
With Drs. Masara Laginaf…
From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
…and Purvi Thomson

I really had to write about this dynamic duo together, as the two really brought across what it means for ophthalmology and optometry to cooperate. They spoke jointly at 100% Optical – on the Ophthalmology Theatre – to help delegates understand the importance of accurate preoperative scans to plan for lens surgery and understand the thought process of IOL selection. “A premium [IOL] essentially means some form of enhanced optic within the IOL that allows patients an increased range of spectacle independence,” said Masara. “The most important thing in my opinion is that the ocular surface ought to be looked at before we treat any of these patients,” Purvi noted. 

Dr. Sheetal Brar

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Recently, Sheetal has made a major career move, and congrats for that. She completed her work as senior consultant of Nethradhama: Super Speciality Eye Hospital in Bangalore, and began a new role as associate director of Brar Eye Hospital (owned by a family member) in Bathinda, Punjab, India. As a result, she also is open to new partnerships as her path forges ahead. 

Michael Frevel

It’s always a good time running into Michael Frevel, and he is laying some plans for us at DOC in Nuremberg. I’ll let him explain best in his LinkedIn post….

Kathrin Benedikt

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

There’s one person in ophthalmology who’s outfits amaze me, and that is Kathrin, area sales manager for Tomey (Nagoya, Japan). “We had great discussions with our customers and sales partners and had the opportunity to present our CASIA2 and OA-2000 devices,” according to Tomey. We’ve covered the CASIA2 OCT extensively, and the OA-2000 is an optical biometer. “OA-2000 is the perfect instrument for measuring axial length, the corneal curvature radius, corneal topography and more in a single shot. High penetration capability is available using the Fourier domain method, which enables high speed scans,” Tomey notes.

Nancy LeBosquain

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Nancy is VP of marketing at Belkin Vision (Yavne, Israel), and we’re both looking forward to our time at ASCRS in Boston, and probably some chowda! In fact, I learned that it’s one of Nancy’s favorite US cities, as a visitor – because she’s Canadian. We Americans always get excited about this fact, because Canadians are like us, but still not! Or we are like them, but not. Anyways, “Belkin Vision has developed an efficient, non-contact and automated glaucoma laser therapy accessible to ALL ophthalmologists,” according to the company. We’re looking forward to following Belkin on its innovative journey. 

Ulf Nawrocki

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Ulf, who is the marketing director of Teleon Surgical (Spankeren, Netherlands), and I have a great hangout coming up in Boston at ASCRS as well. In the meantime, I learned that Teleon has partnered with ViaLase to be the distribution partner in Germany when it comes time for commercialization in Europe, likely later this year. “The ViaLuxe Laser System is designed to reduce IOP using femtosecond laser precision and micron-accurate gonio imaging to non-invasively create customized drainage channels through the trabecular meshwork,” according to ViaLase. Exciting times.

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
With Pete England of ViaLase.

Dr. Sheraz Daya

It was simply amazing to visit the clinic of Sheraz Daya in London. I posted about my experience here, and meant every word: 

Jorge Fernandez

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Jorge, co-founder of Olleyes (New Jersey, USA), made 100% Optical a happening place by sponsoring the central bar. What a great idea, as the place was lively, with not only beverages, but dancing! Right there in the center of the show floor. It was a sight to behold. Olleyes is always forward-thinking, meanwhile, redefining visual testing with its Olleyes Virtual Reality Software.

Lorcan Butler

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Lorcan was a godsend at 100% Optical, as he knows the ins and outs of this show like no other. We appreciated Lorcan’s support of our rapid production videos at 100%, as he was a constant guide. He’s also optical engagement manager for The Brain Tumour Charity (United Kingdom), and does a lot of good work there. 

Team Media MICE

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

We of course couldn’t have covered 100% Optical without strong support from Team Media MICE at APAO in Bali. That was because the two shows were happening at virtually the same time. So while 100% Optical was a testing ground for new content and coverage, we still had a load of work to do at APAO, which the team handled marvelously. Thanks team!

Karel Fabry

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

I was WhatsApping friend Ray Seivert selfies with Karel here, who is also a great guy. Tracey Technologies (Texas, USA) is a global operation, and advanced iTrace technology is here. The iTrace 7.0, called iTrace Prime, has all kinds of advanced features, including The Prime Dashboard, Tear Film Analysis and an Exam Results display and Tech Triage. 

Ko Lane

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Ko was a pleasure to meet at 100% Optical, and she sent me off with a great gift: an AEON eye drop bottle from Rayner. No, not the actual drops – although I got some of those too – but a tumbler. AEON Protect Plus drops are for the relief of moderate to severe dry eye before and after eye surgery.

Jayshree Vasani

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Jayshree is a super enthusiastic eye care professional who also is co-presenter of Insider Tech Bites by 100% Optical. Insider Tech Bites is a webinar series where 5-minute pitches are performed by optical suppliers showcasing product/services/innovation to the eye care and eye wear industry. 

Dr. Radhika Rampat and Christian Oster

I had to group these friends together, as we had a great time not only interviewing Radhika at Christian’s BVI booth, but also dancing the day away over at the 100% Optical DJ area, and getting some photobooth pics together. Good times!

Gill Wood

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

I had just a fabulous run-in with Gill, who is helping to plan some amazing activities surrounding UKISCRS this year, the meeting she organizes. One activity is the 75th Anniversary Dinner of the first intraocular implant – to the day (see entry number 10 above for details of this historic occasion). This dinner, supported by the Ridley Eye Foundation, Rayner and UKISCRS,  will occur at the Tower of London and is for “the most eminent ophthalmic individuals from across the globe.” As I received my invitation, I thought about getting a picture at the Tower of London, but I ran out of time during 100% Optical. So, this “picture” of me at the “Tower of London” is in fact not. It’s an AI-rendered picture of me at whatever AI thinks the Tower should look like. Ha! Meanwhile, Thursday, Nov. 28 is the date of the annual UKISCRS congress. 

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!
Matt’s pic with an AI-rendered “Tower of London”

Kees Sas

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

I appreciated the advice from Kees this time around – careful of the off piste skiing! Kees is a veteran skier, and once upon a time went off piste, but not anymore. He suggests avalanche and other dangers are a bit too much risk. I appreciate the advice and will continue to weigh the risks. Being an entrepreneur I probably have more of a risk tolerance profile than the average bear, so maybe it comes with the territory. My next ski destination is Killington right after ASCRS, so fortunately, I won’t be going out of bounds. Ski Patrol is much stricter in the USA! Meanwhile, Kees and I kept up our strength for the next adventure, arm wrestling on top of the Reichert Ocular Response Analyzer, which measures Corneal Hysteresis and Corneal Compensated IOP (IOPcc). “Corneal hysteresis has consistently shown to be a more powerful predictor of, and strongly associated with, glaucoma progression, more so than key risk factors such as IOP and CCT,” according to Reichert. “IOPcc is a pressure measurement that is less affected by corneal properties and more associated with glaucoma risk than Goldmann and other tonometers.” So it does some cool stuff, but won’t tell you which of us won at arm wrestling. 

Giulia Guffanti

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

I’m so glad to hear Giulia found a new home at Espansione Group (Bologna, Italy) as global marketing manager. And I realize now Giulia, that we are now both alumni of the same graduate school – Medill at Northwestern, after completing digital marketing and media strategy coursework in 2023. Congrats Giulia for your accomplishment! Meanwhile, I’d like to encourage readers to check out the website: www.espansionegroup.it . It’s visually awesome and also showcases some amazing partner collaborations up and down the industry.

Adam Said

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

At the ESCRS Winter meeting, I promised to meet up with Adam in London, and it was a treat. We met in David Bowie’s old neighborhood, Brixton, and it was awesome to feel the rocker vibe for some moments in time. Adam is heading up MCI’s work with ESCRS, organizing on behalf of that show, and we’re looking forward to more great plans together for the upcoming ESCRS in Barcelona, where we will be the Digital Media Partner once again. 

Cara Jones Faye

From Asia to Europe and Back Again, Hitting Eye Conferences One Ski Trip at a Time!

Alcon (Geneva, Switzerland) had a fresh look at 100% Optical, where it was promoting its product line and the notion of “Water Surface Lenses” to optometrists. It was great to learn the latest there from Cara, and I noticed the cherry blossom tree in the background must have been foreshadowing my trip to Fukuoka, Japan, to see these great trees blossom toward the end of March. Super cool. 

STAAR entry

To wrap up the Q1 Season, Media MICE was the Digital Media Partner of the 3rd EVO ICL™ APAC Experts Summit. I thought it best to end this article with some engaging LinkedIn posts covering what went down. Without further ado, here they are… Special thanks to Tom Frinzi, Warren Foust, Paula Ommerli-Weber, Magda Michna, Jim Francese, Lisa Leung and many others at STAAR for the incredible cooperation.

That’s a wrap for Q1. I’m already looking forward to the next selfie round-up with friends direct from ASCRS in Boston!

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was first published on Matt Young’s LinkedIn profile.

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