8 May 2019

The College at ARVO

Our Head of Research, Martin Cordiner, reviews the highlights of ARVO, (the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology) the biggest vision science conference in the world.

Our researchers have a regular presence at the biggest vision science conference in the world, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, or ARVO. We headed to Vancouver to combine our support for them with a celebration to mark the soon-to-be-ending tenure of OPO's Editor-in-Chief, Professor David Elliott of the University of Bradford.

The breadth of content at ARVO, delivered over the course of five days, is overwhelming, so here’s some highlights.

The use of ‘big data’ to uncover the hidden secrets of disease is increasingly well known, but it is important to remember the odd proviso. The UK’s Biobank study has collected extensive data on the genetics and environment of 500,000 people in the UK, but only 180 of them have keratoconus, limiting analysis to an extent. It also presents a snapshot, rather than longitudinal data which reveals changes and trends, which we will have to wait for. One study from Australia suggested that although falls were reduced by a third after first eye cataract surgery, they were reduced by a further 50 per cent after second eye surgery, suggesting that a shorter gap between the two is preferable.

A significant benefit of ARVO is the ability to meet peers and make new plans for collaborations, and our funded Scholars took such opportunities. Their research covers various areas including nystagmus, genetics in myopia, peripheral defocus in hyperopes and vision thresholds in glaucoma, and their attendance allowed them to further their research and develop the findings that you’ll hear about at future CET conferences, via its initial publication in journals such as the College’s own OPO.

"The use of ‘big data’ to uncover the hidden secrets of disease is increasingly well known, but it is important to remember the odd provison"

We were delighted to invite many of such peers, who have been instrumental to OPO’s recent success, to a dinner thanking the Editor-in-Chief for his stewardship since January 2011. Professor Elliott has grown the journal and modernised its review structures, making it a showcase for the best optometric research in the world, so it was great that so many colleagues who’ve contributed to the success could join us and help spread the word about OPO amongst their own academic communities.

Other content at the conference included developments in technology, including research from City, University of London describing the ongoing development of a tablet-based portable perimeter for use in glaucoma. Although further development is needed, it is promisingly quick and could be viable for triaging or screening. Additional methods of assessment are also valuable for use with drivers, and another Australian study described how ‘multi-domain’ assessment models (i.e. assessing cognition and motor skills as well as vision) were better than tests that looked only at visual acuity and visual fields, yet the latter is the model for most (possibly all) countries.

Before flying home there was just time to check out one of North America’s biggest urban woodlands, Stanley Park. Famous for its 9km seawall and incredible views all the way around its shore, I thought a meander through its heavily wild and wooded central trails would bring peaceful contemplation. Hang on, is it this path or that one? How can I be lost, it’s not that big….when’s my flight again? What was that noise? Do you run from a coyote or stand still? If this journal is ever found then please return it to – oh, there’s a café, how splendid.

Wild encounters apart, it was a fruitful trip, and we look forward to telling you more about our funded researchers soon.

Related further reading

Sejal Mistry MCOptom describes her time as a Darzi Clinical Fellow and improving patient access to eye care services.

A glance at what’s happening in the world of technology.

Eye health issues that are making the news.