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

Inside the ICO


ICO Awards and Medals

International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) Awards and Medals honor exceptional individuals who have contributed to the advancement of ophthalmology, to the prevention or amelioration of eye disease and blindness, and to the advancement of international relationships among ophthalmologists.

Recent ICO awards and recipients presented at WOC2018 include: ICO International Duke Elder Medal recipient Rubens Belfort, Jr., MD, PhD, MBA; ICO Gonin Medal recipient Jean-Jacques DeLaey, MD, PhD; ICO G.O.H. Naumann Award recipient Abdulaziz AlRajhi, MD; ICO Ophthalmic Pathology Award recipient Sarah Coupland, MBBS, PhD, FRCPath, FARVO, FSB (left, presented by Hugh Taylor, AC, MD, Immediate Past President of the ICO).

Nominations for the following ICO Awards are currently under review by international panels:

ICO Bietti Medal recognizes outstanding work in glaucoma and the facilitation of international communications in the ophthalmic community.

ICO Bruce Spivey Ophthalmic Education Awardrecognizes outstanding work in global education that has enhanced eye care and the preservation of vision.

ICO Jules François Golden Medal recognizes outstanding work of highest scientific quality in a subspecialty of ophthalmology not covered by the other ICO Medals, such as hereditary diseases, pediatrics and strabismus, oculoplastics, or neuro-ophthalmology.

ICO Tadeusz Krwawicz Gold Medal recognizes outstanding work in cornea and cataract surgery, especially operative treatment of diseases of the anterior segment and/or introduction of new technologies, and to the advancement of international relationships among ophthalmologists.

Awards will be given at the Opening Ceremony of WOC2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. See past recipients of ICO Medals and Awards at

International Eye Health


Celebrate World Health Day on 7 April with All Eyes on Universal Health Coverage

The World Health Organization (WHO) held its first World Health Assembly in 1948. The Assembly decided to mark the WHO’s founding with World Health Day as a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April 2019 since 1950. On this day, international, regional and local events are organized and acknowledged by governmental and non-governmental organizations.

This year, the theme of World Health Day is universal health coverage (UHC) - access to health services when needed without suffering financial hardship. The spectrum of services covers needs through all stages of life and ranges from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care. 

Eye care development in countries is supported by the World Health Assembly resolution on the Global Eye Health Action Plan and guides ministries of health toward universal eye care coverage. To learn more, please see the WHO’s Global Eye Health Action Plan.


WHO Announces Major Reforms & Ambitious Targets

A bold new WHO structure announced this March is part of the WHO’s new strategic plan. Led by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, an organization-wide plan has been set to modernize operations, improve efficiencies and increase relevance to member states and its global role. The new WHO structure emphasizes research and monitoring so that work with health care planners in countries is based on solid evidence. 

The focus on “triple billion” targets includes more people benefitting from universal health coverage, protection from health emergencies, and more people enjoying better health and well-being. Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals, the new structure will bring the work of WHO closer to countries with an emphasis on measurable positive change in health care delivery. 

The ICO continues to work very closely with the WHO on the development of ophthalmic education and knowledge and skill sharing opportunities in countries around the world. The new WHO priorities and strategic directions will substantially inform the ministries of health on future work areas, including eye care.

To learn more, please see WHO Triple Billion Targets.

Societies & Leaders


The ICO Welcomes its Newest Member Global Eye Genetics Consortium

Professor Takeshi Iwata, President of GEGC Professor Takeshi Iwata, President of GEGC

The Global Eye Genetics Consortium (GEGC) becomes the newest member of the ICO family, where ophthalmologists and scientists are on a mission to make contributions to genetic eye disease. They are working to uncover new scientific opportunities and identify shared priorities to create unique international collaborations in genetic eye research. The organization began in Asia and now represents 180 members from 31 countries on 6 continents.

“GEGC members are excited to become a part of the ICO family to closely work together toward establishing networks in all parts of the world,” says GEGC President, Prof. Takeshi Iwata of the National Institute of Sensory Organs, Tokyo Medical Center, Tokyo, Japan (photo).

Goals include sharing genetic information and establishing collaborations to organize regional educational and scientific congresses. Their new “GenEye” genotype-phenotype database will be launched in May 2019 at ARVO. Plans are underway for GEGC members to meet again in Africa with the World Ophthalmology Congress® 2020 in Cape Town.

To learn more about GEGC, please visit

ICO Mark Tso Golden Apple Awarded to Prof. Ke Yao at the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO)

Top photo: Prof. Ke Yao <br>Lower photo, left to right: Dr. Jan Tjeerd de Faber, Dr. Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, Prof. Charles McGhee, Dr. Anuchit Poonyathalong, Prof. Clement Tham. </br> Top photo: Prof. Ke Yao
Lower photo, left to right: Dr. Jan Tjeerd de Faber, Dr. Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, Prof. Charles McGhee, Dr. Anuchit Poonyathalong, Prof. Clement Tham.

The APAO 2019 Congress in Bangkok 6-9 March was rich with achievements, with over 6,500 delegates from 93 countries. The combination of leadership, great teamwork, networking, and warmest Bangkok hospitality made this an unforgettable meeting experience.  

Prof. Ke Yao, President of the Chinese Ophthalmology Society, Vice President of Asia-Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, and ICO Board member was honored with the prestigious ICO Mark Tso Golden Apple Award at the Opening Ceremony of the APAO Congress. This award is presented to an ophthalmologist doing outstanding work in regional training who is recognized for innovation and leadership in ophthalmic education within each of the four supranational regions. Mark Tso was the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) Vice President 1998-2006 and served as director for education until 2012. His dedication to ophthalmic education is honored through this award. Professor Yao, award recipient, presented his keynote address on the burden of cataract in China (top photo).

Congratulations to the Scientific Program Chair, Prof. Dennis Lam and the leadership team on an outstanding meeting with distinguished speakers from 76 countries presenting nearly 1,000 lectures in 176 scientific sessions (lower photo, left to right: Dr. Jan Tjeerd de Faber, President of the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE); Dr. Paisan Ruamviboonsuk, APAO 2019 Congress President; Prof. Charles McGhee, APAO President; Dr. Anuchit Poonyathalong, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand; Prof. Clement Tham, APAO CEO and Secretary General, and ICO Treasurer).  

Prof. Ningli Wang was welcomed as the new APAO President. The next APAO meeting is in Xiamen, China, 23-26 April 2020.

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting Will Be Held 28 April – 2 May 2019 in 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.

Register today.

Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) Congress 25-28 May 2019 in Cancun, Mexico

The Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) will hold the XXXIV Pan-American Ophthalmology Congress in the beautiful city of Cancun, Mexico on 25-28 May 2019. It will feature the latest techniques in ophthalmology in the different specialties with clinical and surgical approaches to problems faced in daily practice. Symposia, courses, electronic posters, free works, videos, and social events will make this a memorable congress at the Cancun Convention Center. The scientific program schedule is available at PAAO Congress Schedule.

The ICO will again join the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) Congress for ICO co-sponsored sessions and an ICO Reception. Learn more.

Cancun is a city of many attractions, with interesting and fun activities that include nature, traditions, and culture. 

“We are confident that this XXXIV Pan-American Congress of Ophthalmology Cancun 2019 will be a great scientific and social success. Let’s enjoy the hospitality of our Mexican brothers! Welcome everyone!” says ICO Board member and PAAO President, Dr. J. Fernando Arévalo. Register today.

European Society of Ophthalmology Congress 13-16 June 2019 in Nice, France

The European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) is ready with an outstanding scientific program that combines current evidence and state of the art technology. An excellent opportunity for learning, participants can look forward to 4 keynote sessions, 19 courses and 65 symposia planned over 4 days.

The ICO will also join the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) Congress with three ICO-organized sessions and an ICO Reception. Learn more.

“SOE looks forward to welcoming you to SOE 2019 in Nice 13-16 June 2019 at the Acropolis venue,” says Dr. Jan Tjeerd de Faber, SOE President, and ICO Board member.

Register today.

ICO Co-Sponsors Middle East Africa Congress of Ophthalmology 5-8 September 2019 in Dead Sea, Jordan

The 2019 Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) Congress will be held on 5-8 September 2019 to disseminate the latest advancements in ophthalmology from around the world. It will take place at the stunning King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center in Dead Sea, Jordan (top photo).

Hosted by the Jordanian Ophthalmology Society this year, it is the largest scientific meeting of the region with 36 participating national ophthalmology societies from 32 countries of the Middle East and Africa region.

Early bird registration is open until 30 April 2019 and the abstract deadline is 1 May 2019.

Register now.



ICO Examinations Adopted by All India Ophthalmological Society

 ICO President, Prof. Peter Wiedemann (right) with AIOS President and ICO Board member, Prof. Sundaram Natarajan and Prof. Rajvardhan Azad, Chairman AIOS Collegium Board (left) signing the agreement. ICO President, Prof. Peter Wiedemann (right) with AIOS President and ICO Board member, Prof. Sundaram Natarajan and Prof. Rajvardhan Azad, Chairman AIOS Collegium Board (left) signing the agreement.

It’s official! The ICO has begun a collaboration with the All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) toward ophthalmology specialty certification. Through its Examinations program, ICO Exams have replaced the written element of the subspecialty exams currently administered by the AIOS and will be held in seven subjects for their members in India.  

Subspecialty exams are currently offered in cornea & external Eye Disease, Glaucoma, Uveitis, Neuro-ophthalmology, Retina, Pediatric Ophthalmology, Oculoplastics. Following the written examinations, candidates will move to the face-to-face exam conducted by the AIOS.

Applications open on 1 May and the next examinations are being conducted in October 2019. 

Further information can be found on the ICO website, or by contacting the ICO Exams office.

First ICO Residency Director Course in Dominican Republic

In collaboration with national and supranational ophthalmic societies, the ICO provides vital instructional programs and resources that help ophthalmic educators become better teachers. The result is stronger educational programs and better-trained ophthalmologists and eye care professionals worldwide.

The ICO co-sponsored their first Residency Program Directors Course in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with PAAO and the Dominican Republic Society of Ophthalmology. This two-day course held on 1-2 February 2019 had over 90 participants from 6 programs in the country.

Local faculty included Drs. Joaquín Lora Hernandez, Raquel Rodriguez Cordobas, and Miguel Angel López, along with past and current ICO Board members, Drs. Eduardo Mayorga and Ana Gabriela Palis, respectively. 

ICO Residency Program Directors Course at Magrabi-ICO Cameroon Eye Institute

On 23-24 February 2019 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the ICO co-sponsored the second Residency Program Directors Course in partnership with the Magrabi-ICO Cameroon Eye Institute (MICEI) and the Cameroonian Society of Ophthalmology. This two-day meeting was held to promote and improve standardized resident education in ophthalmology by providing good practices from existing teaching models.  Course Faculty shared their experience co-chaired by Drs. Karl Golnik and Henry Nkumbe, along with Drs. Christelle D. Noche from Cameroon and Ilhem Mili-Boussen from Tunisia. The course was attended by 26 staff and educators from MICEI, Cameroon, Benin, and Burkina Faso.

The ICO is working to stimulate and support ophthalmology training programs where there is a shortage of ophthalmologists and fewer resources. These educational programs focus on assisting ophthalmic educators to become better teachers utilizing more effective, less expensive, and broader-reaching educational offerings.

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

More ICO Fellowship Opportunities

The ICO Fellowship 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.

The ICO network of host institutions includes 135 hospitals and universities across 33 countries.

Deadline is 30 September 2019.

Three-Month ICO Fellowships

Six-Month ICO - Eye Cancer Foundation Fellowship (Retinoblastoma)

One-Year ICO - Retina Research Foundation Helmerich Fellowship

One-Year ICO - Fred Hollows Foundation Fellowship

More information on ICO Fellowships can be found at


World Ophthalmology Congress


World Ophthalmology Congress 2020


Join us for the 37th World Ophthalmology Congress® in Cape Town, South Africa 26–29 June 2020. As the longest continuous international medical meeting, which first took place in 1857, WOC2020 will be particularly special as it will be held in Africa for the first time. With over 10,000 delegates expected from more than110 countries, it will be a great opportunity to indulge in over 300 scientific sessions.  A variety of leisure activities include safaris, wine tasting, mountain hikes, and of course all the historical and cultural attractions that make this destination unique.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre is conveniently located in the city center, overlooked by the stunning Table Mountain and near the famous Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

Do not miss this opportunity, register now and benefit from the Early Bird Fee at WOC2020.

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