by Hugo Whyte, Junior Clinical Fellow, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

Arriving in London on a wet Tuesday evening, I disembarked the train and began my expedition through the torrential rain, my drenched suit bag in one hand and my precious poster packaged and clutched to my chest in the other. Despite the miserable welcome to London, I was in high spirits and ready for the UKISCRS 47th Annual Meeting!

Wednesday morning was the Young Ophthalmologists Programme (YOP) which kicked off with the dry lab workshop. Being an applicant rather than a trainee, I can’t say I’ve ever sutured a cornea before, but thanks to our superb instructors, the exercise was fun and informative. I was somewhat pleased with my first attempt on the whole, although I won’t be showing it to my corneal consultant!

During the afternoon, there were a number of excellent lectures, bringing us up to date with the management of the many forms of keratitis. The day finished with a series of discussions concerning the world of private practice. I was struck by the variety of approaches that one can take and was impressed by the differing ways each speaker built their private practice careers to suit their own individual circumstances and objectives, both personal and professional.

As the microphones and speakers were cleared away, out came the wine as the young ophthalmologists (plus my 47-year-old consultant... I’m not quite sure how he snuck in… perhaps it was the cool trainers) mingled and socialised. The whole day was fantastic and a credit to the hard work of Laura Maubon and the YOP committee who did an outstanding job organising it.

On Thursday morning we were back, bright and early, for the next part of the conference. Once again, I was blown away by the sheer volume of topics that were covered, ranging from the future challenges facing cataract surgery to examples of uniquely challenging corneal cases in the last year, with many excellent video presentations and of course the very impressive lifetime achievement awards. We were incredibly fortunate to hear from the awardees, Mr. Paul Rosen, Prof. John Marshall and Prof. Dan Reinstein and were captured by their remarkable journeys. I was truly in awe at the magnitude of the impact these ophthalmology giants have had in this field and found their unique stories utterly inspiring, especially when highlighting the importance of determination and perseverance.

Between lectures there was the opportunity to browse the exciting stands where we could meet many of the friendly pharmaceutical and technology company reps, and hear about their latest product updates and developments.

After meeting Harry, a friendly ST1, he beckoned me over to the Eye Simulation (EyeSi) corner and encouraged me to have a go. Despite being initially apprehensive, I caved into the peer pressure and, with what can only be described as a bit of beginner's luck, managed to bag a spot in the ‘Beat the President, EyeSi Final’ which would be held the following day… on stage… in front of the whole conference! As I had only planned to attend Wednesday and Thursday, I made a quick call to my very understanding wife to inform her that I wouldn’t be back for dinner.

Friday came and I found myself sitting up on the big stage. The lights were bright and the pressure was high but thankfully it was over in a matter of minutes and I was very happy to finish third, however it was the rock solid performance from Anna that stole the show. A huge congratulations to Anna and the other finalists who did a superb job.



After leaving the conference and London, I reflected on what a wonderful experience this had been. The conference was just brilliant; it was slick, informative and great fun too. I would like to thank the president, Paul Ursell, as well as Gill Wood and their lovely team for putting on such an excellent meeting. I can only imagine the amount of organisation and hard work required behind the scenes to make such a large event run like clockwork. Everyone was very friendly and Gill’s description of it being an ‘Eye-Family’ really hit the nail on the head. I already have the 2024 meeting in my diary, which will be a particularly special occasion as it marks the 75th anniversary of when Sir Harold Ridley inserted the first intraocular lens, changing the course of cataract surgery forever. See you there!