New Orleans Academy returns for annual symposium

February 15, 2006

New Orleans—Two weeks after the city of New Orleans was ravaged by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, Marguerite B. McDonald, MD, phoned New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology (NOAO) President Scott D. Lanoux, MD, to say speakers were assuming the NOAO's annual symposium, scheduled for March 10 to 12, 2006, would be canceled.

New Orleans-Two weeks after the city of New Orleans was ravaged by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, Marguerite B. McDonald, MD, phoned New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology (NOAO) President Scott D. Lanoux, MD, to say speakers were assuming the NOAO's annual symposium, scheduled for March 10 to 12, 2006, would be canceled.

"I said, 'No way, no how! We're having this meeting no matter what,' " recalled Dr. Lanoux, a lifelong New Orleans resident. "There's never been an interruption in 55 years, and it's not going to happen on my rein. I just had the faith that we'd be able to regroup in this city."

Despite personal and professional losses, leaders of the organization have done just that. The group aims to host several hundred ophthalmologists next month for its 55th annual symposium, "Inner Visions: An Update on Refractive Surgery, Cataract, and Cosmetic Oculoplastics." The meeting normally draws 350 to 400 participants; however, less than 2 months before it was set to open, registration was down markedly.

Nine faculty members will present the latest tips and research in their respective areas of expertise (See "Leading faculty speak at NOAO meeting"). An extensive agenda addressing a variety of topics in refractive surgery, cataracts, and oculoplastics will also greet NOAO delegates. For instance, George Waring, MD, will present the international status of phakic IOLs, implantation techniques of the Verisyse phakic IOL (AMO), refractive surgery, and a session titled "A LASIK surgeon is not a refractive surgeon." William W. Culbertson, MD, will present sessions on corneal surgery with the femtosecond laser, phacoemulsification in small pupils, and infectious keratitis associated with keratorefractive surgery.

In addition, Terrence P. O'Brien, MD, will offer an update on wavefront-guided customized ablations, tips for cataract surgery under topical anesthesia, a "rational" approach to antimicrobial prophylaxis in cataract surgery, a discussion of Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy, and advice for managing suspected acute endophthalmitis.

A number of roundtable discussions will address the future of IOLs, the experts' "most nightmarish complications in refractive surgery," refractive limits and considerations for LASIK versus phakic IOLs, surgical correction of presbyopia, and the future of LASIK. Delegates might also want to check out a workshop designed to help refractive surgeons rule out poor surgical candidates, called "How to use topography to rule out keratoconus and stay out of court."

In addition, attendees can be certified-at no extra charge-as epi-LASIK surgeons for both the Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) Amadeus and Norwood EyeCare epikeratomes. In addition, eyeonics Inc. is offering a certification course for its crystalens accommodative IOL at no extra charge, Dr. McDonald added.

"It would take a great deal of time and money to obtain these certifications under any other circumstances," said Dr. McDonald, NOAO program chairwoman.

Keeping the legacy alive

Once regarded as the second largest ophthalmic meeting in the United States (behind the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting), the NOAO symposium initially began as a means to provide continuing medical education to local ophthalmologists. However, the meeting quickly drew participants from across the country as it offered a rare opportunity for surgeons to update their skills and discuss techniques and advances with their peers-decades before meetings became the norm in the industry.

With so much lost by the citizens of New Orleans, the faces behind the NOAO were not about to let Hurricane Katrina destroy their meeting, too. The feat was not without its challenges.