Editor's Blog: ESCRS grown to become a unique ophthalmic meeting

September 9, 2012
Mark L. Dlugoss

Ophthalmology Times Editor-in-Chief, Mark Dlugoss, blogs daily from the 2012 congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS).

Mark L. Dlugoss, editor-in-chief of Ophthalmology Times (OT), is attending the 2012 congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) in Milan, Italy. As part of OT’s coverage of the meeting, Dlugoss will provide a daily blog offering his observations during the meeting.

For live coverage of ESCRS, follow @OphthTimes on Twitter. OT Editor-in-Chief Mark Dlugoss will be live tweeting throughout the congress.

The ESCRS is celebrating its 30th Congress this year. In that time frame, the ESCRS has grown this annual meeting from just 200 delegates in 1983 to more than 6,000 cataract and refractive surgeons from all around world, and that total does not include the large contingent of industry members that have filled the exhibition hall over those years.

OT has found the ESCRS meeting to be a rather special and unique meeting. Over the past several years, the ESCRS meeting has unveiled some revolutionary technology (i.e., femtosecond lasers to name one), which has lead to some solid editorial content for the publication.

Upfront, the ESCRS meeting will always be a special meeting for OT. The publication started attending ESCRS with the 2001 meeting in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The U.S. publication came to Amsterdam on a fact-finding mission to determine if there was potential to grow its franchise and brand in the European ophthalmic market.

Arriving with 3,000 magazines to distribute to the ESCRS delegates, OT got its answer rather quickly. All 3,000 magazines were gone by the second day, with many physicians saying, “You should be in this market.”

The warm welcome and overall response from the European ophthalmic community gave OT the information it needed to create a business plan, and convince its management that Europe was a market that needed to be tapped. Several years later, Ophthalmology Times Europe was born and the publication has grown to become a major player in the European ophthalmic market.

Over the years, OT has felt a need to attend the ESCRS meeting because the meeting always seems to serve as a mini-preview of what U.S. ophthalmologists can expect from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meeting that follows 6 to 8 weeks later.

It’s not that the AAO meeting is inferior to this or other meetings; it’s just that there is a flavor about the ESCRS meeting that usually highlights certain events that gets one excited about the upcoming AAO-whether those events are clinical presentations, the latest new products, or industry happenings.

After every ESCRS meeting, the OT staff comes back to the United States with a few strong editorial article ideas that usually get published in one of the issues that OT distributes at the following AAO meeting.

For example, several years ago at the 2009 ESCRS Congress in Barcelona, physicians from the United States and Europe presented clinical papers discussing a new cataract procedure incorporating femtosecond laser technology. Papers discussed the technologies of LensAR, LenSx (now Alcon), and OptiMedica that would simplify the cataract procedure. Those presentations were the talk of the meeting-and the industry is still talking about the technology and it can do for ophthalmologists.

At last year’s meeting in Vienna, the exhibition hall was buzzing over the latest technology from Bausch + Lomb and Technolas Perfect Vision-the Victus femtosecond laser that performs both cataract and corneal procedures in a single platform. The company also launched its new enVista glistening-free, hydrophobic acrylic IOL. Carl Zeiss Meditec also had surgeons intrigued with its ReLEx smile procedure, which combines femtosecond technology and precise lenticule extraction to perform minimally invasive refractive corrections.

It is these kinds of industry moments that seem to surface at the ESCRS meeting that have physicians talking. These same moments are later showcased and discussed weeks later at the AAO meeting. For OT, it is editorial content to be shared with ophthalmologists who are always interested in the latest and greatest in the market-even if that technology takes some time getting approved in the United States.

For the 2012 ESCRS Congress here in Milan, what trend(s) will emerge? Over the next few days, OT will be in discussions with physician KOLs, industry thought leaders, and ophthalmic manufacturers. The publication hopes to uncover and highlight the latest innovations for ophthalmologists. Stay tuned!

For more coverage of ESCRS, follow us on Twitter (@OphthTimes) and keep an eye out for more daily blogs!

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