Recently I spoke at an ophthalmic conference in London. It was amazing to be back amongst friends and colleagues in person again, to learn and share with one another. I also took the opportunity to stay on for a few days annual leave, taking my teenagers to see some West End shows. The performances of Wicked and Back to the Future were amazing, but I was particularly taken by how the performing cast and theatre staff thanked the audience for their in-person support. They were all very clear - attending in person was the only way to make these shows viable, offering a unique experience which no other format could replicate. These sentiments seemed familiar to me as the ophthalmic community wrestles with how to re-engage with education and conferences following the pandemic restrictions.
I had a wry smile as I saw an advertisement for Sister Act: Back in the Habit! Sometimes you only truly appreciate something when it has been taken away. I strongly believe this to be the case with in-person education. Virtual has become established, and while it can democratise access, there are major limitations. Gwyn’s article offers entertaining strategies for Zoom meetings (though maybe some of us need specific clothing directions?!). My personal experience of hybrid is that it can be the worst of both worlds for clinicians and industry partners alike - disengagement from the online audience and dissatisfaction for the lower numbers of in-person delegates. We need to get “back in the habit” of meeting up at dedicated events, not just for the headline educational updates and research developments, but for inspiration, for innovation, and peer-to-peer support and encouragement. If we don’t consider carefully what we wish our future engagement with each other to look like, we risk losing these unspoken benefits.
Which brings me to this edition of Eye News. We have the usual wide variety of educational topics ranging from rare but relevant case reports to neuro-ophthalmology in space. Practical advice abounds, including a timely reminder from Gordon Dutton regarding helping those with cerebral visual impairment. A refresher of visual standards for driving occupations and Top Tips for toxic nutritional optic neuropathy are always helpful to all eyecare professionals. An old classic - the Pathology Quiz - also makes a welcome return in this edition, so there is really something for everyone.
Finally, I would draw your attention to the calendar in our Events section. Increasingly, juniors are unaware of the opportunities and benefits from completing a research project, presenting it at a relevant meeting (and even winning prizes!). I would ask that you share this great resource within your department, helping juniors and seniors to utilise their study leave effectively. Why not encourage them to sign up for their own free subscription of Eye News - so they can plan their future development! You may be the catalyst to set someone on their fledgling path towards clinical and academic excellence. Let’s all get “back in the habit” of engaging with the incredible range of educational activities which exist. The more we engage, the more we develop, which is ultimately better for us and our patients. - DL