PAO represent! Happenings at the recent APAO Congress in Taipei

by Yvette Marie B. Santiago, MD

The cold and rainy Taipei weather did not stop our PAO delegates from shining at the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) Congress 2016!  The meeting held from March 24-27, 2016 at the Taipei International Convention Center (TICC) and Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) was attended by over 60 PAO member and members-in-training.


PAO delegates having fun at the exhibition hall.

APAO Congress Opening Ceremony

Dr. Ruben Lim Bon Siong attending the opening ceremony as APAO regional secretary for the Philippines



One of the first sessions to jumpstart the APAO meeting was the Young Asia Pacific Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (APSOPRS) symposium.  Young oculoplastic surgeons from Japan, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, India, Nepal, the Philippines and Bangladesh presented their experience in eyelid masses.  The author, a PSOPRS member, described the Philippine experience by showing the incidence of eyelid tumors in the country based on the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI) data that was published in 2015 at the Clinical Ophthalmology Journal (Domingo, RE et al.).  She also presented cases of common eyelid malignancies seen in her practice, with distinctive and unusual features.


Dr. Reynaldo Javate, founding president of APSOPRS, participated in many of its symposia.  He chaired the symposium on “Contemporary Management of Complicated Lacrimal Conditions” and gave talks on “lower blepharoplasties for Asians” and “clinical outcomes on the use of stents in lacrimal surgery”.

The author at the YAPSOPRS symposium

The Taiwan Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (TSOPRS) hosted a day out with APSOPRS delegates on March 25. Dr. Javate and the author joined the tour to the National Palace Museum of Taipei.

Dr. Javate and the author were among the guests of the TSOPRS dinner party at TICC.

The author trying out oyster omellette at Tonghua Night Market with former APSOPRS President, Dr. Ashok Grover, his wife, and Mrs. Lou Javate, wife of Dr. Javate,.

To conclude the APSOPRS program, Dr. Raoul Paolo Henson joined the faculty for an instructional course entitled “Anatomy of Complications in Orbitofacial Surgery”.  He discussed the anatomy of lacrimal surgery.


Dr. Raoul Henson with the rest of the distinguished APSOPRS instructional course faculty.

The Future of Femtosecond Laser

Another session to kickoff the APAO Congress on March 24 was a cataract symposium entitled “What is the Future of Femtosecond Laser in Phaco Surgery?”  In this program, our very own, Dr. Harvey Uy, shared his vast expertise by talking about “Nuclear Fragmentation-- Pearls and Outcomes”.


Smartphones for ROP Screening

Dr. Rachelle Anzures, a retina specialist and active member of PAO’s retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) working group, lectured on the use of smartphone imaging for ROP screening during the Pediatric Ophthalmology symposium on March 24.  After giving a brief review of currently available portable fundus cameras, she presented the results of a collaborative clinical study between St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City and Ospital ng Makati.  The study determined the “validity and reliability of using smartphone imaging as a screening tool for referral warranted ROP”.

Dr. Anzures with the Pediatric Ophthalmology session faculty


Philippine Glaucoma Society (PGS) Instructional Course

On the last day of the congress, the Philippine Glaucoma Society hosted a well-attended instructional course on “Correlation of Structure and Function in Glaucoma: Practical Tips on Using Perimetry and OCT”. The faculty was headed by Dr. Patricia Khu who talked about visual field defects. She was followed by Dr. Mark de Leon who discussed visual field progression in glaucoma and then Dr. Hannah de Guzman who described glaucoma damage to the optic nerve head.  Lastly, Dr. Martinez, talked about OCT findings in Glaucoma.

PGS Instructional Course Faculty (from left): Dr. Biboy Martinez, Dr. Happy de Guzman, Dr. Pat Khu (session chair), and Dr. Mark de Leon



In between scientific meetings, PAO representatives met up with officials of the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).



The 2 organizations had a meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on March 24 to discuss how ICO can assist PAO with its concerns.  This was attended by ICO Executive Director, Dr. Kathy Miller, ICO Vice President, Dr. Neeru Gupta, ICO Membership and Society Relations Manager, Ms. Jennifer Hanes, PAO President, Dr. Sherman Valero, and PAO councilor, Dr. Joan Loy.


Dr. Valero inquired about one of the main thrusts of his presidency, i.e., to come up with standards of care and practice guidelines for Filipino Ophthalmologists.  The ICO officials then suggested that we look into their guidelines on Glaucoma Eye Care and Diabetic Eye Care, both readily available online, as basis to customize our own. 


Other matters that came up during this meeting were about increasing the number of Filipino applicants who take the ICO exams and helping to improve our residency training curriculum.  Lastly, the possibility of having a PAO symposium at the ICO-hosted, World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC) was suggested.


From right: Ms. Jane Aguirre, Dr. Valero, and the author



On March 25, also at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dr. Valero and the author, PAO Young Ophthalmologists Program head, met with Ms. Jane Aguirre, AAO Vice President for Membership and Alliances and Mr. Gavin Tachibana, AAO International Communications Manager, to reaffirm the longstanding partnership between PAO and AAO.   


Ms. Aguirre reassured us that access to the Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network continues to be free of charge for all PAO active members and members-in-training.  All the members need to do is contact PAO secretariat to acquire their personal access information.  She gave updates on new and upgraded features of this one-stop online educational reference.  It is not only a source for full text journal articles of several Ophthalmology publications, it also features “Master Class” video series on cataract, vitreoretinal, strabismus surgery, etc. and instructional materials at the Oculoplastics online surgical center and Pediatric Center. Other reference materials available to us from the AAO website is a “Summary of Benchmarks for PPP Guidelines”, condensed for easy access to the most relevant information in preferred practice patterns guidelines.


Another highlight of this meeting was the discussion on international examinations for AAO’s Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program (OKAP®).  The OKAP® exams is an annual, compulsory, multiple choice test taken by all residents of American ophthalmology training programs.  OKAP® International aims to assess residents’ ophthalmic knowledge, chart their progress year to year, and compare their percentile rank against others in the program and around the world.  Testing centers will be available in Manila and Cebu but the cost of taking the exam has yet to be determined.  For U.S. Ophthalmology residents, the exam costs US$300/year.  Ms. Aguirre hopes that PAO could encourage our residency training programs to participate in this exam. 


Good news for PAO members who are interested in getting the new Basic and Clinical Science Course (BCSC) 2016-2017 textbooks! Bulk discounted pricing will now be available for a minimum purchase of 10 complete sets for orders placed by November 10, 2016.  Pricing is available upon request at email:  Also, an electronic version of the textbooks will soon be available for download. 


Other opportunities for collaboration with AAO that was discussed in this meeting focused on advancing professionalism in our country.  AAO can offer an Ethics Educational Program for our members and provide timely access to professionals in ophthalmic ethics who will consult with us in, for example, resolving professional ethical dilemmas and developing the highest standards for ophthalmology.




The author is proud to join the ranks of former APAO Leadership Development Program (LDP) graduates: Dr. Jessica Marie Abaño, Dr. Joseph Anthony Tumbocon, Dr. Jose Ma. Martinez Jr., Dr. Johann Michael Reyes, Dr. Sherman Valero, Dr. Marie Joan Loy and Dr. Paolo Silva.  She completed the LDP Master Class in Bali, Indonesia last October 2015 and presented the outcome of her LDP project, “Establishing the Young Ophthalmologists Program of PAO”, at the APAO LDP Graduation Session on day 3 of the congress.  Dr. Myra Ocubillo was also in Taipei to attend the orientation session for APAO LDP Class 2016-2017.  Her master class will be held in Mongolia later this year.

The author presenting the outcome of her project at the APAO-LDP Graduation Session

APAO-LDP 2015-2016 graduating class with LDP director, Dr. Catherine Green, APAO Secretary-General, Dr. Clement Tham, and ICO President, Dr. Hugh Taylor.


APAO-LDP new graduates, alumni and the incoming class of 2016-2017.


Awards and Recognition

The Gran Hotel


At the APAO Congress gala dinner on March 25, PGS was presented with the Outstanding Service in Prevention of Blindness Award.  The award given to “individuals or organizations whose contributions are instrumental in prevention of blindness in the Asia Pacific area” was received by PGS President, Dr. Tony Tumbocon. This was in recognition of their efforts to increase public awareness to help prevent blindness from glaucoma in the Philippines and the formation of the Philippine Glaucoma Foundation (PGF) to fund awareness campaigns and subsidize the surgery of indigent glaucoma patients.

Dr. Tony Tumbocon receiving the award for PGS

Dr. Rey Santos and Dr. Rey Javate with other Distinguished Service Awardees


Two esteemed PAO leaders, Dr. Reynaldo Santos and Dr. Reynaldo Javate, were also honored during the dinner program with Distinguished Service Awards for their contributions to improving Ophthalmology in the Philippines.


PAO Represented!

More PAO superstars are getting the international recognition that they deserve as shown in the last APAO Congress.  As Dr. Valero pointed out in his plans for his term as PAO president, it is time for us “to work harder to be more active in supranational societies to showcase our strengths as an organization.”  We are off to a great start this year!




About The Author

Dr. Yvette Marie Santiago is an Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who has been a part of the eFP editorial staff since 2012 and was editor-in-chief from 2014-2015.  Apart from being passionate about anything that has to do with the orbits, she is a shopaholic in denial and an obsessed gastronome with an indomitable wanderlust.  She dreams of someday enrolling herself at the International Culinary Center in New York, so that she can learn how to cook all the fine food that she wants.