(all times shown are PT)
Sunday, May 5
1 - 2:45pm
Vice President Session: Understanding the initial stages of diabetic eye disease (VI)
Diabetes is a systemic disease that can cause major changes in vascular regulation and neurovascular coupling. In the eye this can lead to sight-threatening retinopathy. However, it is widely accepted that there are changes occurring early in the development of DR. Because of the unique ability to noninvasively measure the structure and function of the retina and choroid, there is a growing interest in using the eye to develop biomarkers of diabetes induced changes. This symposium will provide a snapshot of some of the work being done in this field as well as a look at the future promise for using the eye as a biomarker of the risk for progression to more advanced retinal and systemic impacts of diabetes.
3:15 - 5pm
Beyond the bottleneck: Nonaxonal signaling mechanisms in glaucoma and new approaches to neuroprotection (VN)
Axonal dysfunction culminating in thinning of the nerve fiber layer and excavation of the optic nerve head represents a hallmark of glaucoma yet there is strong evidence that retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death is preceded by early changes in dendritic morphology and function, inflammatory perturbations, and vascular remodeling. This symposium brings together recent insights into the complexity of early remodeling and dysfunction of retinal circuits impacted by mechanical stress, their role in the pathophysiology of glaucoma and potential early diagnostic and neuroprotective strategies.
Vision to future: The translational scientist (AP)
A cohesive, productive MD – PhD pairs have potential to dramatically shape the future of medicine. These impactful partnerships allows for cross talk and cross collaboration and bringing critical questions from the clinical space, to the research space, and vice versa. This has been instrumental for moving the field of ocular oncology, and specifically the applications of liquid biopsy and precision medicine. The 3 scientist pairs will discuss their approach to blending clinical work and bench science into big impact translational science for 3 different intraocular tumors: retinoblastoma, uveal melanoma and intraocular lymphoma.
Monday, May 6
8:30 - 10:15am
Retinal barriers: Formation, function and disruption (RC)
Retina and brain have unique circulation with tightly controlled blood retinal (BRB) and blood brain (BBB) barriers separating these tissues from the systemic circulation. Normal vascular function is essential for providing oxygen and nutrients to these highly metabolically active tissues. Breakdown of the retinal barrier is at the center of many retinal pathologies including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Unlike the brain, retina has two distinct blood retinal barriers. The inner BRB is provided by endothelial cells of the retinal vasculature supplying the ganglion cells and the retinal nerve fibers. The outer BRB, which is formed by retinal pigmented epithelial cells (RPE), supplies the outer retina, including the highly metabolically active photoreceptor cells. Advanced new technologies for the non-invasive study of ocular circulation are providing new significant insights into the role of vascular circulation in retinal function. This mini symposium will focus on the mechanisms that control BRB integrity and regulation of retinal blood flow in health and disease.
Modelling vision at multiple scales: In search of a virtual visual system (VI)
This symposium presents the current understanding of the human ocular structure and visual function at different scales with the overarching aim of merging them into a tunable multi-scalar opto-mechanical vision model.
3 - 4:45pm
A roadmap for developing vision-restoring therapies for patients suffering from optic neuropathy (GL)
The limited regenerative capacity of the mammalian central nervous system underlies the irreversibility of vision loss from glaucoma, ischemic optic neuropathy, optic neuritis, and other optic neuropathies. The Retinal Ganglion Cell (RGC) Repopulation, Stem Cell Transplantation, and Optic Nerve Regeneration (RReSTORe) Consortium was developed to foster collaborative efforts in addressing the challenges associated with the therapeutic repair of the visual pathway in optic neuropathy. In 2022, the RReSTORe Consortium initiated ongoing international collaborative discussions to advance the RGC repopulation field and identified five critical areas of ongoing focus: (1) RGC development and differentiation, (2) Transplantation methods and models, (3) RGC survival, maturation, and host interactions, (4) Inner retinal wiring, and (5) Eye-to-brain connectivity. This synergistic approach to scientific advancement has brought together >200 diverse investigators from complementary fields and yielded a comprehensive roadmap for advancing regenerative medicine in vision. Here, we will present the most pertinent questions and challenges that exist on the path to clinical translation and, critically, propose experimental directions to propel this work going forward. In pursuit of these goals, we will discuss and present multidisciplinary approaches that leverage groundbreaking insights from work in developmental neuroscience, stem cell biology, molecular biology, optical imaging, animal models of optic neuropathy, immunology & immunotolerance, neuropathology & neuroprotection, materials science & biomedical engineering, and regenerative neuroscience. The presentations in this symposium represent the future of regenerative medicine research in optic neuropathies and illustrate the transformative potential of an inclusive and intentional approach to scientific progress in vision restoration. To that end, we have specifically recruited emerging vision scientists to present on some of the topics relevant to the RReSTORe Consortium, who will be mentored by senior members of the consortium.
Biomechanical properties of normal, aging, and pathological eye tissues (LE)
Recent work has shown that biomechanical properties of eye tissues play a role in normal aging and disease. These studies have shed light on how changes in stiffness and elasticity of various parts of the eye affect normal tissue function and lead to changes, including presbyopia, keratoconus, myopia, and glaucoma. This minisymposium will showcase speakers specializing in common eye diseases to highlight novel methods to measure and understand biomechanical tissue properties, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine tissue stiffness and elasticity, and ways to modulate tissue biomechanics.
Tuesday, May 7
8:30 - 10:15am
Novel approaches and models to gain insight in albinism (EY)
Albinism is a genetically heterogeneous hypopigmentary disorder that manifests in a range of visual defects, often profoundly impacting quality of life. Despite the absence of curative treatments, significant strides have been made toward unravelling the underlying pathomechanisms with a view to inform targeted molecular therapies. This minisymposium seeks to bring together a multidisciplinary group of experts to elucidate the complexities of albinism from cellular to surgical perspectives. This minisymposium will first explore how in vitro models using induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) in albinism (“disease in a dish”) can recapitulate pigmentation defects and thus prove to be an excellent resource for testing therapies. Subsequent talks introduce innovative mouse models, specifically designed "avatar albino models," which simulate patient-specific genetic variants to offer unprecedented insights into individual phenotypes. Using multi-center collaborative approaches in albinism research, we will showcase how international cooperation can fast-track advancements in diagnosis and insight into genotype-phenotype correlations. Advances and the role of adaptive optics and optical coherence tomography angiography in characterizing microstructural changes in albinism will be discussed. The penultimate discussion pivots to molecular interventions, examining emergent therapeutic targets, metabolomic studies and signaling pathways, thus laying the groundwork for future treatments. We will finally explore current management options including approaches to targeting manifestations such as nystagmus and anomalous head postures, and their efficacy in enhancing visual function.
1:15 - 3pm
Vice President Session: Next-gen researchers in ocular immunology and microbiology (IM)
A group of junior investigators in vision science will present their research on the next direction in ocular immunobiology and microbiology in this mini-symposium. After their presentations, there will be a panel discussion on how to retain and support new research and researchers in the field.
Functional consequences of amblyopia (EY)
This minisymposium will highlight research showing the impact of pediatric eye conditions that cause amblyopia on visual functions, skills required for everyday activities, and quality of life.
3:30 - 5:15pm
Envision the future of ophthalmology through generative AI in images and language (CL)
As generative artificial intelligence (AI) continues to develop and mature, it has the potential to open new frontiers in healthcare and research innovation. The symposium explores the transformative potential of generative AI and large language models (LLMs) in the field of ophthalmology both in clinical care and scientific research. By harnessing the power of deep learning algorithms and the latest Transformer model development, generative AI enables accurate analysis of ocular images, aiding in early disease detection and precise diagnostics. It facilitates automated image interpretation, potentially streamlining workflows and reducing the burden on ophthalmologists. Large language models can assist in generating comprehensive medical reports, extracting essential information from textual data, and enhancing the overall efficiency and quality of patient care in clinics. In this minisymposium, we will introduce the foundations of generative AI and LLMs, and discuss their latest developments, and cutting-edge applications in ophthalmology from benches to bedsides.
Non-coding variation in human eye disease: From discovery to functional exploration (BI)
Whole genome sequencing is increasingly utilized in genetic analysis of human samples, in both clinical and research labs. While various tools are available for the analysis of coding regions, functional interpretation of non-coding variants remains to be a significant challenge. There is a growing number of studies demonstrating the importance of non-coding variation to human disease, highlighting the need to develop efficient high throughput approaches for prioritization and functional validation of this variant category. The proposed session will deliver a series of talks from the leaders in the field and describe a range of novel approaches and their successful implementation to identify pathogenic non-coding variants in human ocular disorders.
Wednesday, May 8
10:30am - 12:15pm
The future of imaging ocular inflammation is now (IM)
Imaging technology is critical for managing inflammatory eye diseases. Advances in image processing and machine learning promise to deliver new non-invasive biomarkers. Despite their current and future clinical utility, clinical imaging modalities generally fall short of revealing the pathophysiologic mechanisms that drive disease.
In parallel, advanced cellular and molecular imaging techniques have become invaluable tools for dissecting the pathophysiology of inflammation in model systems, but face challenges in translation to patient care. The goal of this symposium is to bring together experts in clinical and basic science to discuss ways in which advanced image analysis and image-based cellular and biochemical insights can shed new light on the pathophysiology of ocular inflammatory disease.
2:15 - 4pm
Contact lens is not a piece of plastic: Back to the future (CO)
Recent advancement and diversification in contact lenses are remarkable. Today, contact lenses are not merely correcting tools for refractive errors, but can be used as therapeutic modalities for various diseases.
With new materials and technologies entering the market, several options, such as lenses with internal wetting agents and silicone hydrogel lenses, have become available for wearers seeking relief from contact lens discomfort. Custom-made contact lenses can address irregular astigmatism and improve the vision in eyes with irregular corneas.
Myopia has become increasingly prevalent worldwide over the past century. Contact lenses such as orthokeratology lenses or multifocal soft contact lenses are commonly used for myopia control. Numerous studies and clinical experience show that we can prescribe interventions that significantly slow the rate of myopia progression. Contact lenses can be used as biosensors and medication depots. Intraocular pressure monitoring is essential in the diagnosis and management of glaucoma patients. Currently, continuous ocular monitoring contact lens sensor is available in clinical use, which helps clinicians personalize glaucoma treatment according to the patient’s intraocular pressure profiles. Drug-eluting contact lenses can be used for ocular drug delivery with widespread therapeutic applications. Future development of both types of lenses are of great interest.
This session will cover some of the hottest topics in contact lenses today. Attendees will learn about exciting new lens technologies and how these lenses can help their patients.
Illuminating myopia: Newer insights into the mechanism and effects of light on myopia (AP)
There is strong evidence indicating that the time spent in outdoor lighting is protective against myopia in children. However, different characteristics of ambient light, such as spectral composition, duration, intensity, and wavelength, can have considerably different effects on the eye. This symposium will assess the most up to date research on the effects of different features of lighting on the eye and myopia, as well as their underlying mechanisms.
Thursday, May 9
11:45am - 1:30pm
Eye as a window to systemic inflammatory diseases (IM)
A large number of infections affect the eye, and many of these occur in the setting of a systemic disease like endogenous endophthalmitis and uveitis. Conversely, many systemic pathologies share a possible ocular involvement, especially Age-Related Macular Degeneration and more recently COVD-19. Despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of systemic infections, many patients still suffer from retinal infections and inflammatory diseases; particularly due to an increase in the number of immunosuppressed patients and those being administered systemic chemotherapeutic and immune-modulating agents, which may increase the chance of eye involvement. In addition, the intestinal microbiota has also been shown by various groups to promote ocular conditions, partially via its dynamic influence on mucosal and systemic immunity. Consequently, the eye becomes a window through which to look at early clues to systemic diseases. This symposium will cover topics on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate these systemic conditions as well as shed new light on the pathobiology of such conditions.
Tear fluid biomarkers: Fundamentals, hurdles and clinical applications (BI)
Tear fluid research is gaining a lot of attention these days thanks to the development of ultrasensitive detection techniques. However, there are still some hurdles to take before tear biomarkers tests can be used routinely in the clinic. This mini-symposium will present the current state-of-art and future perspectives of tear fluid-based tests.
2 - 3:45pm
Mitochondrial function in healthy and diseased retina (RC)
Uniquely high metabolic activity and energy demand of the retina require optimal mitochondrial function. Several retinal pathologies are tightly associated with increased reactive oxygen species formation and altered mitochondrial function including defective oxidative phosphorylation, epigenetics, biogenesis and mitophagy. Both hereditary and acquired mitochondrial dysfunction are known to critically contribute to retinal pathologies including diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, age- related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, optic neuropathies etc. There is no doubt that a better understanding of mitochondrial function in retinal health and disease could provide new ways to control the onset and progression of potentially blinding diseases of the retina. The presenters of this symposium will discuss recent advances in mitochondrial function and its alterations in different retinal pathologies.
Keratoconus: An evolving paradigm of pathophysiology and diagnosis (CO)
Keratoconus is a multifactorial, progressive, degenerative corneal disease, and despite significant progress made over the years, the precise etiology remains unclear. Interestingly, as we continue to advance the knowledge about keratoconus pathophysiology, more questions arise regarding onset, progression, and potential treatments. As a result, the field is moving quickly and the rate of scientific discoveries has accelerated. This session will include basic and clinical scientists who will present their latest research on topics ranging from the early detection of keratoconus to the understanding of prevalence and risk factors in the disease. Additional speakers will discuss new research on pathophysiological elements of keratoconus, specifically ocular surface tears and the role of immunity and systemic dysregulation, as well as molecular and biomechanical corneal changes occurring in the disease. This mini-symposium will focus on recent, innovative, and groundbreaking discoveries that are shifting the understanding of keratoconus and will address current dogmas and keratoconus debates.