SEE-ARVO symposia highlight retinal research

By Petja Vassileva
President, SEE-ARVO
University Eye Hospital “Prof Pashev,” Sofia, Bulgaria
Originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of ARVONews

SEE-ARVO 

Since the founding of the South-East European International Chapter Affiliate of ARVO (SEE-ARVO), we have been organizing sessions and symposia at regional and national forums. The main forum for SEE-ARVO is the annual meeting of the South-East European Ophthalmological Society (SEEOS). We also organize SEE-ARVO symposia during the annual congress of the Union of the Bulgarian Ophthalmologists (UBO).

This year, the UBO congress took place in May in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The SEE-ARVO session was dedicated to retinal research and attracted over 400 attendees. The highlight of the session was the presentation by ARVO member Peter Wiedemann, PhD, FARVO, of the University of Leipzig, on the important role of Muller cells and the toxic effect of their activation by different pathogenic stimuli.

Wiedemann pointed out the need for better understanding this gliotic mechanism for development of new therapeutic
strategies.

Robert Butner, MD, of the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic in Houston, Texas, spoke on the role of VEGF in macular conditions and recent data on the application of anti-VEGF preparations in the treatment of CNV, CME in retinal vascular diseases and DME.

'Informative and exciting'

Yordanka Kirilova, FEBO, who was an ARVO Chapter Travel Grant recipient in 2011, attended the session at UBO.

“The SEE-ARVO sessions at UBO are the most informative and exciting part of the event,” Kirilova said. “This year I was amazed by Prof. Wiedemann’s lecture on his research on Muller cells. The presentation included incredible illustrations, and the function of Muller cells was very well demonstrated with videos and animations. Prof. Wiedemann conveyed the information in a comprehensible manner that gave the audience better insight in retinal pathology and the direction for development of new therapeutic strategies.”

Hristina Krasteva, a third-year resident, said “I was fascinated by Prof. Wiedemann’s lecture on his recent research data — a very impressive and well documented talk! As a resident, I also appreciated the extremely didactic presentation of Prof. Butner on anti- VGEF treatment in retinal diseases. It was a great overview on well-established preparations and new clinical studies and development.”

Focus on DR

In June, the SEE-ARVO session at the SEEOS meeting in picturesque Ohrid, Macedonia, featured diabetic retinopathy (DR). During the 60-minute symposium, experts from the region presented important aspects of epidemiology, screening and management of DR.

My role was to open the session with a brief overview of South-East European Chapter of ARVO and its past activities and achievements. I discussed the increasing burden of diabetic blindness, as well as the different programmatic approaches for dealing with challenges in DR management.

These include increasing of public awareness (“I wish someone had told me”) and the application of up-to-date diagnostic and treatment technology. Magdalena Antova-Velevska of Macedonia summarized the difficulties of dry eye diagnosis and management in patients with diabetes. ARVO member Gabor Mark Somfai, MD, PhD, of Semmelweis University, Budapest, the secretary of SEE-ARVO, gave a talk about the first Hungarian experience with telemedical screening of DR, launched in 2012.

Ljubica Jovanovik-Pandova, MD, also from Macedonia and currently practicing in Switzerland, reviewed the current concepts of DR treatment, followed by a summary by Vladimir Popovski of Spain on recent technological developments in laser photocoagulation therapy for DR.

The debate at the end symposium, with an audience of about 80 people, was lively and emphasized regional partnerships as part of the solution to tackle these challenges.

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