Editor’s blog: Stranger in a strange land

May 1, 2013

While the location is different, it’s still ARVO! The meeting is still the largest eye and vision research meeting in the world. Researchers from more than 80 countries will present more than 5,000 papers and posters, sharing their knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. This year’s meeting will be no different, and one can still expect good science and, maybe, some “drama.”

As part of Ophthalmology Times’ coverage of the 2013 meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Editor-in-Chief Mark L. Dlugoss will post blogs with his observations of the meeting.

For live coverage of ARVO, follow @OphthTimes on Twitter.

By Mark L. Dlugoss

Seattle-I woke up Saturday morning, looked out my hotel window, and noticed that it was sunny and warm (about 70 degrees or so). What a great way to start the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting, I thought!

Except something was not quite right. I didn’t wake up in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I was in Seattle!

After 17 ARVO meetings in Fort Lauderdale, it seemed strange that I didn’t wake up overlooking the white, pristine beaches of Florida. The thought of trekking cross-country to attend an ARVO meeting in a “foreign land” just did not seem right to me. I felt like Valentine Michael Smith, the character in the 1961 satirical science fiction novel, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” by Robert A. Heilein.

For those not familiar with the book, Smith is a human being, born and raised on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. He comes to Earth as a young adult-only to find difficulty in interacting and transforming to his new land and its “terrestrial culture.”

There has been a lot of discussion regarding ARVO’s decision to move its meeting from one city to another, similar to what most ophthalmic and eye-care organizations do with their meetings. Every one has their thoughts and opinions-some good, some not-so-good. Some people are happy, while many people are not. Everyone loved the laid-back atmosphere that the ARVO meeting provided in Fort Lauderdale.

I am sure the relocation discussion will surface here in Seattle, but let’s face it; we’re not in Fort Lauderdale anymore. We’ll be “Strangers in a Strange Land.”

While the location is different, it’s still ARVO! The meeting is still the largest eye and vision research meeting in the world. Researchers from more than 80 countries will present more than 5,000 papers and posters, sharing their knowledge in vision and ophthalmology. This year’s meeting will be no different, and one can still expect good science and, maybe, some “drama.”

The long-awaited results of The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), sponsored by the National Eye Institute, will be presented at this meeting. Those results will have strong implications as to whether or not taking high levels of antioxidants and zinc can reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Then, there is the second-year results of The Inhibit VEGF in Age-related choroidal Neovascularization (IVAN) trial, the United Kingdom’s study that compares the safety and efficacy of Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) and Avastin (bevacizumab).

As an added measured, the results of the GEFAL Study will be presented. The GEFAL study is France’s version of the Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) and IVAN Trials.

ARVO will still present its Achievement Award lectures, which always draws strong interest among attendees. This year’s honorees include:

  • Proctor Award: "Timing is Everything: GTPase Regulation in Phototransduction," Vadim Arshavsky, PhD, and Theodore Wensel, PhD, FARVO
  • Friedenwald Award: "Functional & Structural Optical Coherence Tomography," David Huang, MD, PhD
  • Weisenfeld Award: "Soaring Aspirations - Lessons from My Mentors and Colleagues," David Epstein, MMM, MD
  • Cogan Award: "Neural circuits and synapses for early visual processing." Jonathan Demb, PhD

After reviewing this year’s program, and knowing the content will include solid science, the meeting still comes back to location. Actually, Seattle is a great place for a meeting. It’s just that Fort Lauderdale had this “something” about it.

The meeting was more than the convention center. Besides the presentations, there were meetings almost everywhere along the coastline-from the various hotels to the restaurants to the cafes to the lounges. Sometimes, more business was conducted at the hotels and lounges than in the actual convention center.

As we converge on Seattle for this year’s ARVO meeting, it’s going to seem strange not to be in Fort Lauderdale after all these years. The hard part is going to navigate through this new “terrestrial culture.”

Have a great ARVO meeting!

For more articles in this issue of Ophthalmology Times Conference Brief, click here.