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New research from ARVO – The world’s largest eye research meeting

The ARVO Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of eye and vision researchers in the world, attracting over 11,000 attendees from more than 75 countries. I went to ARVO in Vancouver in May to present some of my own research and to sit on the panel for one of the sessions.

ARVO is an excellent meeting for highlighting forthcoming trends and new developments. And it is always
a pleasure to catch up with colleagues from all over the world. This year there was great interest in “big data” and artificial intelligence. These algorithms can analyse large data sets to look for patterns and associations that the human observer cannot easily identity.
For all my glaucoma patients who detest the visual field test, and there are many of you, there is hope in the form of an interesting study from California. The researchers took data from glaucoma patients using scans of the retina (OCT) and used a ‘deep learning’ program to see how the measurements of retinal anatomy correlated with the visual field. They trained up an algorithm to predict the visual field based upon the retinal scans. After training the program, the researchers used it predict the visual fields of another group of patients using only the retinal scan measurements. They found that the program could predict the visual field with surprisingly good accuracy.
Obviously these results have to be validated but perhaps in the future you won’t have to do visual fields, as they could be predicted from your retinal and optic nerve scans.
One of my research interests is Tuberculosis (TB) in the eye – this is a potentially sight threatening condition of eye inflammation associated with TB infection in the eye. Unfortunately this condition is still very common worldwide- particularly in Asia. We have also treated a large number of cases at Moorfields in London – most cases are seen in members of the Asian community, particularly those from East London where TB infection rates are high. The meeting was organised by colleagues in Singapore and India, and was attended by representatives worldwide. The aim of the meeting was to standardise our descriptions of the different manifestations of TB infection in the eye. Standardisation is important as it allows researchers to compare outcomes following treatment across different regions.
Overall a good meeting in a very picturesque setting – the conference centre overlooks a bay that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Although tempted, I did not ski , although some colleagues did. My excursions were limited to a afternoon bike ride with some colleagues around Stanley park, admiring some impressive Totem Poles in a forest, surrounded by views of the ocean.