CET and Mickey Mouse

Our Head of Research, Martin Cordiner, reports back on this year's American Academy of Optometry’s annual conference.

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Author: Martin Cordiner, Head of Research
Date: 29 November 2016

Hello again. This month saw the American Academy of Optometry’s annual conference taking place in Anaheim, California. As the College’s Head of Research, it was felt useful to send me there to see what 300 hours of educational lectures and workshops, and scientific lectures and poster presentations over 4 days, had to offer, armed only with the Director of Research’s inspirational words, “I can’t go, so you’re going instead”.

In case you’re not aware, Anaheim is the home of the original Disneyland, built in 1955. A free day before the conference (Presidential election day, in fact) allowed a quick visit, and it was definitely the right place for a 35 year old on a business trip to visit on his own. Sadly, a security guard asked me to remove my Queen Elsa costume, the spoil sport.

The first day of the conference involved a joint session between the AAO and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). It brought together research about controlling and correcting myopia, to consider whether the standard of care should be changed, and in summary, the techniques for controlling myopia are promising but there’s more that we need to know before it’s full steam ahead in one specific direction.

Thursday saw a session about the use of technology in glaucoma (in which it seems to be increasingly clear that lots of patient data is useful, but we need to know more about interpreting it to pinpoint who is most likely at risk), and some top tips from the Optometry and Vision Science Editorial Team about getting published in the AAO’s own journal. 

Friday saw more on contact lenses and myopia, a session on blue light from an evolutionary perspective, a good session demystifying dementia (echoes of our dementia lectures at our Regional Events over the last year), and a session providing guidance about producing systematic evidence reviews. The evening also saw the International Reception and Australia Party, two enjoyable and now regular fixtures of the event and a good chance to catch up with global friends. Sadly, a security guard asked me to remove my Queen Elsa costume, the spoil sport.

Saturday was the final day, and an earlier finish still allowed time for a session about the optometric considerations in seeing patients with dizziness, with plenty of practical tips (observe the patient, i.e., where are they looking/what are they doing and what does that tell you, and blinking to reduce the sense of motion when changing the subject of your gaze may help), and a session about ethics featuring electronic voting and some lively debate. 

The final session about the particular intricacies in researching dry eye was also very useful, and a good example of how clinical factors can affect research as much as the other way around. My final evening saw a trip to a soul food restaurant and what was apparently the ‘Obama Special’ (three chicken wings and chips). Yes, I know how to live.

All in all it was a very useful conference and a great example of how research studies can be used explicitly to inform clinical practice recommendations. The AAO aims to develop individuals’ practice through the promotion of lifelong learning, which will benefit patients, and that is a concept the College can definitely get on board with.

It was a very useful conference and a great example of how research studies can be used explicitly to inform clinical practice recommendations.

Indeed, we continue to support one of the UK’s most notable contributions to the evidence around children’s eye development, the Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction Study (being undertaken by Ulster University). We are also funding a Postgraduate Scholar looking at the role of vision in dizziness (Deborah Armstrong of Bradford University, who presented a poster at this conference), as well as two systematic literature reviews related to optometric practice. We are proud of our part in these areas and will ensure the findings are fed back to members in ways which relate to practice, as the American Academy conference achieved so successfully.

But now, back home and at my desk, I am afraid I must leave you. Because sadly, the Director of Research has just asked me to remove my Queen Elsa costume, the spoil sport.

If you would like to know more about the conference, please contact Martin at researchteam@college-optometrists.org.


Martin Cordiner
Head of Research, College of Optometrists

Martin graduated with a Masters in Modern History from York University in 2005, having completed his BA there in 2003. Since then he has worked in project management in higher education before joining the College and its fledgling research department in 2009, where he now supports the Director of Research and manages the research team to implement all elements of the College’s Research Strategy. 


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