International Council of Opthalmology
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November 2016
Ico Insight : News, Resources, and Events fort he World’s Ophthalmologists


Two of the ICO’s most popular programs, the ICO Fellowships and the ICO Examinations, have been leading the charge to enhance ophthalmic education and improve access to the highest quality eye care for 15 years and 21 years respectively. 

In this special issue of ICO Insight, we are pleased to share recent news and information about the Fellowships and Exams.

ICO Fellowships


ICO Fellowships: Enhancing Eye Care Delivery in Low-Resource Countries Worldwide

Prof. Berthold Seitz <br> Director, ICO Fellowships Prof. Berthold Seitz
Director, ICO Fellowships

Since the ICO Fellowships began 15 years ago, 928 ICO Fellows from 83 low-resource countries have trained at internationally recognized teaching institutions in 24 subspecialties. ICO Fellows return to their home countries and participate in programs to preserve vision and prevent blindness.

Application deadlines for three-month and six months ICO Fellowships are March 31 and September 30 of each year, and the application deadline for 12-month (one-year) Fellowships is September 30 of each year.

Candidates who have passed one or more of the ICO Examinations and/or those who are from countries with ophthalmologic societies that are Members of the ICO are given special consideration for ICO Fellowships. Starting the application process four to five months before the deadline is recommended. 

For detailed information about ICO Fellowships, see:

ICO Fellowships 2001-2016: A 15-Year Success Story

In 2001, then ICO Treasurer Prof. Balder Gloor initiated the ICO Fellowships as an educational effort to preserve vision and prevent blindness. Prof. Peter Gabel, who succeeded Prof. Gloor as ICO Director for Fellowships, once suggested that ICO programs be evaluated based on "how many people they help to see better." By that measure, the ICO Fellowships have had a profound and lasting impact.

The 15th anniversary of the ICO Fellowships was celebrated on September 30, 2016, during the Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft (DOG) Congress in Berlin. The ceremony included distribution of ICO Fellowships 2001–2016: A 15-Year Success Story, which details the program’s impact and includes the shared personal experiences of ICO Fellowship Hosts, Fellows, and others. Read the report at:

New ICO Six-Month Fellowship in Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma affects approximately 8,200 children annually, and, tragically, the majority will die due to not being diagnosed or treated in time. By contrast, the survival rate is 96% or higher in high-resource countries in North America and Europe. 

The Eye Cancer Foundation and the ICO have set a goal of saving 1,000 children by 2020 through creation of a six-month ICO Retinoblastoma Fellowship for ophthalmologists to gain deeper insight into retinoblastoma diagnosis and treatment. Find out more at:

NEI-ICO Ophthalmic Genetics Fellowships

The United States National Eye Institute (NEI) and ICO have formed a partnership to train ophthalmologists from middle and low resource countries interested in ocular genetics. 

This four-week opportunity for research and training at the NEI’s Ophthalmic Genetics Branch is open to ICO Fellows who have completed their ICO Retinoblastoma Fellowship or ICO Ocular Pathology Fellowship.

Applications will be opening soon, and those who are interested should check in the coming weeks for further information.

ICO Examinations


ICO Examinations: Setting an International Standard

Prof. Simon Keightley <br> Director, ICO Examinations </br> Prof. Simon Keightley
Director, ICO Examinations

The ICO Basic and Advanced Examinations assess an ophthalmologist’s knowledge and enable teachers to evaluate their trainees’ performance by international standards. In 2016, more than 5,000 ICO Examinations were conducted in over 130 centers in 80 countries.

The ICO Foundation Assessment and the ICO Exams App are supportive online learning tools that help ophthalmologists prepare for the ICO Examinations. The Foundation Assessment evaluates basic and practical ophthalmology learned in the first year of training, and the Exams App is a mobile knowledge quiz available in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play.

The next ICO Standard Examination is April 19, 2017, and registration opens in January. To register and learn more about the ICO Examinations, the ICO App, and the ICO Foundation Assessment, go to:

ICO Subspecialty Examination in Cornea and External Eye Diseases

In conjunction with the ICO Subspecialty Curricula, the ICO Examinations team piloted a new subspecialty examination in Cornea and External Eye Diseases with the All-India Ophthalmological Society at six centers across India in September.

Worldwide launch of the Cornea and External Eye Diseases Subspecialty Examination is planned in 2017. Subspecialty examinations in Glaucoma and Neuro-Ophthalmology are expected to follow thereafter, with commencement of additional subspecialty examinations as ICO subspecialty curricula are finalized.

The ICO Subspecialty Examinations will be available to ophthalmologists who have taken the ICO Standard Examinations and who have undergone at least one year of subspecialty training.   

Ophthalmologists Honored for Achievement in ICO Examinations

The Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft (DOG) presented the prestigious Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete ICO Examination Award to the top performing German candidate from each ICO Examination category:

The awards, which are endowed with a prize of 5000 euros each, were presented to the prizewinners October 1 at the DOG Congress in Berlin. The ICO welcomes society support of the ICO Examinations and congratulates the recipients on their achievements.

  • Basic Sciences: Dr. Adel Alraisi (Aachen)
  • Optics & Refraction: Dr. Miltiadis Fiorentzis (Homburg/Saar)
  • Clinical Sciences: Dr. Johanna Müller (Tübingen)
  • Advanced Examination: Dr. Maximilian Pfau (Bonn)

On the Frontline of Care in Syria

Dr. Batal Dr. Batal

Dr. Ahmed Hassan Batal is a member of the ICO Examinations Committee, and a pediatric ophthalmologist from Saudi Arabia. For the last two years, Dr. Batal has been working at Emel Hospital in Syria, which is close to the Turkish border. The hospital is on the frontline of the crisis in Syria and is receiving many casualties from the conflict every day. Dr. Batal and other volunteer doctors work tirelessly to save the lives and eyesight of patients suffering terrible injuries.

In addition, Dr. Batal has been sponsoring all Syrian ophthalmologists who take the ICO Examinations and has pledged to continue to do this while the conflict lasts in Syria. To date there have been 62 candidates who have benefited from his generosity. The ICO and the ICO Examinations Committee thank Dr. Batal very much for his kindness and humanity.

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