Filipino Ophthalmologists in the APAO Congress 2017

by Rachel R. Milante, MD

SINGAPORE – Ophthalmologists from the region gathered in the 32nd Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) 2017 Congress themed “Discovery, Innovation and Practices” last March 1-5, 2017. This meeting was hosted by the Singapore Society of Ophthalmology and College of Ophthalmologists-Singapore, and co-sponsored by the International Council of Ophthalmology.

More than 550 internationally recognized speakers graced the event to share their expertise. This was matched by nearly 5000 delegates from more than 70 countries thirsty to acquire new knowledge and excited to learn new skills.

The congress kicked off with a jam-packed Pediatric Ophthalmology session on Pediatric Anterior Segment Disorders chaired by Drs. Yee Fong Choong, Ken Nischal and Donald Tan, who brought common pediatric diseases to light for general ophthalmologists. Dr. Nischal, clearly enthused by the attendance, emphasized the importance of this topic as pediatric patients are more often seen by general ophthalmologists before pediatric subspecialists do.

The succeeding days were filled with both practical takes on common eye diseases and exciting updates on emerging trends. Of note are the video case studies on cataract complications chaired by Drs. David Chang, Mun Wai Lee and Seng Ei Ti, as well as the controversies in neuro-ophthalmology settled by Drs. Anthony Arnold, Jing-Liang Loo, Neil Miller and their panel. Advances in glaucoma gene therapy, orbital surgery techniques, refractive surgery for keratoconus, anterior lamellar keratoplasty applications, and diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration managements were also discussed.

Filipino speakers and delegates shone in the five-day meeting. Dr. Ruben Lim Bon Siong is the only Filipino given the Distinguished Service Award for his work in improving the field of ophthalmology in the country. Dr. Mary Rose Pe-Yan and Dr. Yvette Santiago were elected to the Asia-Pacific Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (APSOPRS). Dr. Raoul Paolo Henson, who is the incoming president of the APSOPRS, also discussed the assessment of a thyroid disease patient. Dr. Efren Laxamana talked about mentorship during the APAO Young Ophthalmologists Symposium. Dr. Harvey Uy participated in several sessions as he co-chaired the Surgical Interventions in Management of Intraocular Inflammations/Complications of Uveitis and served as a match referee in the Ophthalmic Premier League, a symposium about challenging cataract cases and their management. Dr. Robert Ang, on the other hand, shared his expertise in refractive cataract surgery by being a panel in several plenary discussions.

Filipino residents and consultants, such as Dr. Pik Sha Uy, Dr. Tony Tumbocon, Dr. Donna Santiago, and Dr. Ellen Yu Keh, also contributed to the free papers and posters.

The Singapore National Eye Center also opened its doors in the congress-long open house to allow delegates to see and learn from their set-up. It also showcased the Singapore Eye Research Institute award-winning facility. 

The congress schedule was designed to allow time for delegates to explore the Lion City. Friends and colleagues reunite for dinner at Singapore’s best hawker centers after a full day of learning.  Cultural pursuits at the city’s old streets were rewarded with desserts from hole-in-the-wall cafes. Newer attractions at the Marina Bay Sands, Merlion Park and Gardens by the Bay were not missed. 

Finally, on the last night, the delegates from the country met up for a Filipino night filled with songs and laughter – talking about seeing one another in Hong Kong for the APAO Congress 2018.  

About The Author

Dr. Rachel R. Milante is currently the chief resident of St. Luke's Eye Institute. She graduated from the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. She is the eldest child of Bicolano ophthalmologist and optometrist, Drs. Rollo and Rose Milante.