Retina Fellows Forum Day 2 (Part II): Near-Death Experience & the Real World

Shaheer Aboobaker, MD
Second Year Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow
St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto

Carolina Francisconis, MD
Second Year Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow
St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto

Rachel Trussart, MD, FRCSC
Second Year Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow
University Health Network and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto

Welcome back to RETINA Roundup’s coverage of the 2018 Retina Fellows Forum in Chicago last week. We continue with Day 2 of the meeting.

My Near-Death Experience: What I learned as a patient

FF3-LCThe absolute highlight of the meeting was a very honest, real and emotional talk by Distinguished Guest Speaker Dr. Lawrence Chong. He is an eminent and widely loved ophthalmologist and described as a “friend to all” during Dr. Hassan’s introduction. He bravely and candidly shared with a captive audience the details of his tragic accident and his long and difficult recovery. His positive attitude and outlook through some of his most difficult days was an inspiration to us all and his story touched an emotional nerve with every member of the audience. His reminder of the ephemeral nature of our existence and the deep and tragic loss that could befall us at a moments notice, touched everyone in the room. The standing ovation he received was testament to his strength of character and the profound experience that none of us could envisage.

Dr. Chong, we salute you and admire you for your character in bouncing back so strongly from such a setback and we wish you the best moving forward in your career and life. You are truly an inspiration to us all in the field and beyond. Words don’t do justice to describe the sentiment in the room and we thank you for sharing your life-changing story with us.

Surgical Instrumentation: New Devices and Current Preferences

Dr. David Chow reviewed current trends amongst fellow surgical training and exposure to different gauge setups and 3D surgery. He documented a trend of increased uptake of smaller gauge surgery in fellowship training.

He reviewed endoillumination and light safety and highlighted the benefits of chandeliers and lower light levels required to illuminate the posterior segment with the Ngenuity system.


Dr. Dean Eliott shared his vivid images of trauma and shared his tips on timing of vitrectomy in relation to development of retinal detachment in these eyes. He reminded us of the importance of CT scan in all cases of open globe injuries and to repair injuries as far posterior as we safely can go.


Dr. Amy Schefler reviewed effective methods of preventing endophthalmitis and the controversies surrounding this topic. She reported published data of the equivalent efficacy of aqueous chlorhexidine in sepsis prevention compared to betadine. Interestingly, lidocaine showed an antibacterial effect in cell culture which may have a small beneficial effect if used subconjunctivally. Dr Michael Jumper commented on his concerns of altered flora in contact lens users and questioned whether we should use prophylactic antibiotics in these patients and optimal timing to resume contact lens wear. Dr. Eliott suggested 24-48 hours contact lens free post injection or until discomfort resolves. Dr. Schefler reported a rate of endophthalmitis of 9.4% in patient with self reported betadine “allergy”.

Dr. Eliott suggested that true iodine allergy is possibly incompatible with life.

Starting Your Career: The Real World

After relocating to a more informal setting, the faculty, led by Dr. Carl C. Awh, shared tips from their experience on choosing a job, starting a practice and career and ways to achieve an optimal work life balance. These real life tips on non academic material were well received.

End of Forum Awards

After a fiercely competitive and very enjoyable two rounds of bowling, Team Chong won the Team prize for the bowling competition. The highest female score was achieved by Dr. Katherine Talcott from Wills Eye and the highest male score by Dr. Shaheer Aboobaker from University of Toronto.


The research award went to Dr. Maxwell Stem from Royal Oak.

Throughout the conference, Dr. Hassan tested our logic, general knowledge and speedy reflexes with The Retina Games. After three rounds, the only team standing was Team Chong. After another round of individual elimination and a bowl off between the final two contestants, Dr. Amar Patel from LSU-New Orleans emerged as the victor of the Retina Games and won a travel grant to ASRS in Vancouver later this year.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Massive thank you to Dr’s Hassan, Chow and Awh for arranging yet another fantastic Fellows Forum. Thank you to the Faculty for their informative and interesting talks!

Finally, early congratulations to the graduating Fellow class of 2018 and best of luck in all your future endeavours. Looking forward to seeing you all at a meeting in the future!