Retina Society 2021: Welcome Back

Matthew Starr, MD
Vitreoretinal surgeon
Mayo Clinic

Welcome back, in-person retina meetings are here again. With the 54th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Retina Society in downtown Chicago, IL, returns in-person meetings for the first time for most retina surgeons during the COVID-19 era. The process is a little different, though, with team members verifying our COVID-19 vaccination status on entry and the check in bag also included a mask and hand sanitizer (the throw away pen was still in there). Regardless, it feels good to be back to in-person meetings and hearing the interaction and discussion amongst colleagues.

The first day of the conference kicked off with the infamous case and video session which was not disappointing. The session started with an excellent case by Dr. Robert Sisk of a young baby with Osteoporosis-Pseudoglioma Syndrome that was induced early at 34 weeks in order to facilitate treatment of both eyes, both of which required surgery. Dr. Sisk reported that at 2 years the patient was doing fantastic with a wholesome video showing the young toddler naming letters of the alphabet as they were shown to him. A truly awesome outcome. Not to be outdone, though, were also cases of West Nile Retinopathy, Alport syndrome diagnosed from the fundus exam, a patient with Bardet Biedl Syndrome who had 4 spleens who was also not diagnosed until after his eye exam, perivenular PAMM, Charcot Marie Tooth optic neuropathy, and a great case by Dr. Audina Berrocal of X-linked retinoschisis with massive schisis cavities nearly abutting the posterior lens that flattened over time with aflibercept injections and without surgery.

Following the cases were video discussions of some very interesting surgical cases with my personal favorite being that of the “IOCB” removal by Dr. Glenn Yiu who described a patient with a history of a PK post complete dehiscence and open globe following trauma. After primary closure, the patient underwent further vitreoretinal surgery for a persistent vitreous hemorrhage where the previous corneal button graft was found sitting on the posterior pole, an “IOCB.” Dr. Yiu described an interesting technique of removing en bloc through a scleral tunnel as he was not able to “eat” it using the vitreous cutter.

Lastly, the first day concluded with a session on diabetic retinopathy. Many studies were presented that highlighted the current state of diabetic retinopathy management. A comment from the audience by Dr. Allen Ho described it best, “We are in the Goldilocks and the Three Bears era, some patients need it not so hot, some not so cold, we need to to find the treatment that is just right.” Again being back in person allowed for some very collegial discussion about new studies and papers on managing diabetic retinopathy and only pointed to the fact that in person meetings with discussion following presentations can’t be replaced by the virtual platform. Certainly virtual has its advantages with increased audience access, but it lacks the intangibles of an in the flesh meeting, which I think everyone in the audience was craving. Well done Retina Society for providing a safe atmosphere and great meeting and I know we all look forward to the days ahead.