International Council of Opthalmology
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February 2019
Ico Insight : News, Resources, and Events fort he World’s Ophthalmologists

Inside the ICO


Did you know?

Pamphlet cover for the International Congress of Ophthalmology in 1857. Pamphlet cover for the International Congress of Ophthalmology in 1857.

  • 1857 marked the first World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC). First called the International Congress of Ophthalmology, it is the world's oldest continuous international medical meeting.
  • 1927 – The International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) was formed.
  • 1948 – World Health Organization (WHO) was formed.
  • 1975 – The ICO was a founding member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) promoting a WHO program for the prevention of blindness.
  • 1978 - WHO Programme for the Prevention of Blindness established.
  • 1999 – Launch of Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness referred to as ‘‘VISION 2020 — The Right to Sight’’
  • 2020 - ICO to hold the first World Ophthalmology Congress in Africa, WOC2020!

The ICO is the only international ophthalmology organization to be in official relations with the WHO, representing the world's ophthalmologists.

International Eye Health


A New Global Data Project on Human Corneal Tissue Use

The Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations (GAEBA) announces a long-term project to capture annual data on corneal transplants, corneal donations and tissue movement across countries. “Right now, we do not have access to global rates regarding corneal transplantation, donation or utility,” says GAEBA Representative, Dr. Graeme Pollock. Annual de-identified data at a national level with an account of human tissue donation and use will help members of the sector and community plan effectively and ensure resources are properly used.
“The new project is designed to provide annual de-identified data at a national level. We will not be identifying the eye banks, surgeons or hospitals, and nor will we be analyzing the outcomes, we will simply present the raw de-identified data for those seeking such information.”

“Our approach has been inspired by the WHO Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation, the IAPB Vision Atlas, and the work of Gain et al (2015). We hope to complement those activities long term,” says Pollock.

Learn more about the project by visiting, and to request more information about becoming a Data Champion contact the Collection Team.

World Glaucoma Week, 10–16 March 2019 - Get Involved!

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. World Glaucoma Week is a joint initiative between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association to create greater glaucoma awareness. Over the past 10 years, more than 7000 World Glaucoma Week activities have been organized.

Examples of glaucoma awareness activities around the world and how you can get involved include engaging with patients, screening events, lectures, radio & TV shows to talk about glaucoma, newspaper articles about glaucoma, and the list goes on…..

For more details about World Glaucoma Week and how you can participate, visit

34th Congress of Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology, 6–9 March 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand

The 34th Congress of Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) will be held, in conjunction with the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand, in Bangkok, Thailand, from 6–9 March 2019. The APAO Congress this year is co-sponsored by the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE).

The theme of the 34th APAO Congress is ‘The Sciences and Arts of Ophthalmology’.

Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to join and interact with leading ophthalmic clinicians and scientists from around the world!

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, 28 April – 2 May 2019 – Vancouver, Canada

Join the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Vancouver from 28 April – 2 May 2019 to network with colleagues and share the latest research in the field of eye and vision science at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

Network with colleagues during oral sessions, posters, and social events surrounded by mountains and sea in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Save up to $125 by registering by 1 March. Register today.

Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) International Congress, Dead Sea-Jordan, 5–8 September 2019

ICO is a proud co-sponsor of the XIV Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology International Congress (MEACO 2019), hosted by the Jordanian Ophthalmology Society.

Held every 3 years, the MEACO International Congress is the largest scientific meeting of the region with 36 participating national ophthalmology Societies from 32 countries of the Middle East and Africa region.

The meeting will take place at the stunning King Hussein Ben Talal Convention Center on the shores of the Dead Sea-Jordan, 5–8 September 2019.

This year's theme is the Future of Eye Care. Samir B. El-Mulki MD, President of the Jordanian Ophthalmology Society and Ibrahim Alnawaiseh MD, Congress President welcome delegates from around the world.

Don't miss these important dates:

  • Early bird registration is open now until 30 April 30 2019 at
  • Abstract Submission closes on 1 May 2019.
  • Discounted hotel rates until 1 June 2019.

For more information about the convention center, and your visit to Jordan, go to

Societies and Leaders


77th All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) Annual Conference, 14–17 February 2019 – Indore, India

The 77th AIOS conference was a scientific platform for the exchange of ideas attended by more than 7000 delegates from India and around the world. Hosted by the Indore Ophthalmology Society, the theme was “science with spirituality”. The All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) was established in 1930 and currently has over 22,000 life members.

Prof. S. Natarajan, a member of the ICO Board of Trustees, was appointed President of the All India Ophthalmology Society on 14 February 2019 during 77th Annual Conference at Indore. Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi presented him with the AIOS Memento.

Celebrating 200 years of Indian Ophthalmology, the “Replica of Elliott Museum of Ophthalmology” was inaugurated on the first day of the conference by ICO President Dr. Peter Wiedemann and Chair, ICO Emeritus Group, Dr. Bruce Spivey.

Dr. Peter Wiedemann received an honorary FAICO award at the opening ceremonies.

AIOS Life Time Achievement Awards were conferred by Past President AIOS, Dr. Ajit Majji, on ICO Emeritus Group Members, Dr. Gullapalli N Rao (bottom left), Chairman, L V Prasad Eye Institute for extraordinary vision and achievements in the eradication of avoidable blindness, and Dr. Rajvardhan Azad (bottom right) for tireless dedicated work that has inspired a generation of ophthalmologists.

African Ophthalmology Council (AOC) Appoints First CEO

Sidney Gicheru MD, CEO Sidney Gicheru MD, CEO

The African Ophthalmology Council, AOC, is a supranational ophthalmology organization, whose aim is to represent the interests of national and sub-regional ophthalmological societies across Sub Saharan Africa to improve eye health care. The AOC is a result of the initiative by the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) and Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) known as the Advisory Leadership Group (ALG) for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with the aim to strengthen ophthalmology on the continent. The AOC was officially launched on 3 April 2014 during the World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC) 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.

Sidney Gicheru, MD has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AOC. A Refractive Surgeon from Dallas, Texas, he is a 2012 graduate of the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s (AAO) Leadership Development Program (LDP), and serves as Program Director of the Anglophone and Lusophone AOC Leadership Development programs. He is a past President of the Texas Ophthalmology Association, and has served the AAO as State Affairs Secretariat (as a Regional Advisor) and its Communications and Political Action Committees. In his new role, Dr. Gicheru looks forward to strengthening the AOC organization to fulfill its mission. Learn more about the AOC by visiting their website at



ICO Exam Centers Expand to Austria, Bolivia, Haiti, Honduras, Mongolia, Rwanda, and Uganda

The ICO Examinations are the only worldwide medical-specialty examinations. The ICO promotes excellence in eye care by offering ICO exams to ophthalmologists worldwide to support the highest standard of knowledge. ICO Exams have been taken by more than 32,000 ophthalmologists in 81 countries at 131 testing centers around the world.

Newest testing centers include Austria, Haiti, Mongolia, Rwanda and Uganda and in April 2019, will be offered for the first time in Bolivia and Honduras.

Next ICO Examination Dates:

  • Standard Examinations: 24 April 2019 – Visual Sciences; Optics & Refraction and Instruments; and Clinical Ophthalmology.
  • Advanced Examination: 24 April 2019 – Successful candidates may use the post-nominal acronym FICO (Fellow of the ICO).
  • Subspecialty Examinations: 24 October 2019 – Cornea & External Eye Disease, Glaucoma, Medical & Surgical Retina, Oculoplatics, Neuro-Ophthalmology, Pediatrics & Strabismus and Uveitis.

Learn more by visiting

ICO Teaching the Teachers Program in Partnership with the Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan (OSP)

In collaboration with national and supranational ophthalmic societies, the ICO provides instructional programs and resources for educational leaders. The ICO promotes high-quality eye care through better-trained ophthalmologists and eye care professionals worldwide.

On 6 December 2018, in Lahore, Pakistan, the 4th Teach the Trainers Conference was held in partnership with the Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan (OSP). The faculty consisted of Professors Karl Golnik, ICO Chair of Education, Nadeem Hafeez Butt, President-Elect OSP, Hamid Mahmood Butt, Muhammad Moin, Zahid Kamal Siddiqui, and Soufia Farrrukh. The program was attended by 25 participants throughout Pakistan.

Learn more about the ICO’s Teaching the Teachers Initiative by visiting

The ICO will hold its 37th World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC2020) in Cape Town

Watch the Video to Learn More

Join the ICO in Cape Town, South Africa 26–29 June 2020, for the 37th World Ophthalmology Congress® (WOC2020), the premier and largest international ophthalmic congress, with 10,000 delegates from over 110 countries expected. Watch our new WOC2020 video and see why this meeting in the historic city of Cape Town is one you will not want to miss.

WOC2020 Early Bird Registration is Now Open, Register Today.

Don’t Miss ICO Fellowship Deadlines

The ICO Fellowships Program provides opportunities for promising young ophthalmologists, primarily from low-resource countries, to improve their practical skills and broaden their perspectives of ophthalmology.

Fellows bring this acquired knowledge and skills back to their home countries and take part in vital programs that preserve vision and prevent blindness.
Our network of host institutions includes 135 hospitals and universities across 33 countries.

Below are the upcoming application deadlines:

More information on ICO Fellowships can be found at

We invite you to support the ICO Fellowship Program by making a donation to the ICOFoundation at

Eyexcel – Allied Ophthalmic Personnel Training, 29 July – 2 August 2019 at Aravind in Madurai, India

Co-Sponsored by the ICO, Aravind, and Seva Foundation, this 4.5-day course held at Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology in Madurai, India, prepares eye hospital teams to deliver high-quality training for mid-level ophthalmic personnel. Experienced faculty from Aravind and international guest faculty will conduct the eleventh offering of this highly interactive course. If your hospital is working to set up, improve, or expand, a mid-level ophthalmic personnel training program then this course is for you. Each hospital should bring a team of two to three participants: representing the head of the institute, the person in charge of the training program, and one person actively involved in delivering the training.

The Aravind Eye Hospital sees over 1.5 million patients per year and operates on 300,000, making it one of the largest eye care providers in the world. Training other eye care providers how to replicate this success is critical to meeting the goals of the WHO Global universal eye health action plan. The deadline for registration is 3 July 2019. Learn More and Register.

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