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Diversity at congress: OT's clinical editor, Ian Beasley, shares highlights from the annual British Congress of Optometry and Vision Science 2014, held in Wales last month.

A HIGHER than usual police presence on the streets of Cardiff on Monday September 8 was no doubt related to the hosting of the NATO summit, rather than anticipation of unruly behaviour from delegates attending the annual British Congress of Optometry and Vision Science (BCOVS) in the city. Nevertheless, the two-day event, hosted in rotation by university optometry departments, once again proved popular with academics, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from around the UK, keen to share the latest output from their labs.

After a generous injection of prevent caffeine, the opening session was in full swing by 9.30am. Practitioners were welcomed with a diverse range of presentations on offer, which included the impact of perimetric stimuli area on response variability across the visual field, the effect of age on visual short-term memory, and intriguing observations on the vision and fine-motor control in high-level cricketers.

Programme highlights

Presenting on the busy programme was Professor Chris Tyler, famed for his invention of the first random-dot stereogram resulting in the popularised 'Magic Eye' images. His current interests concern the consequences of traumatic brain injury on human vergence dynamics. Another highlight on day one was keynote speaker Cathy Williams, from Bristol Eye Hospital, who shared her experiences of working with children in her role as consultant paediatric ophthalmologist.

The first day concluded with a drinks reception followed by a well-attended meal at the popular Bellini's restaurant in the heart of the city, giving the opportunity for delegates to catch up with colleagues and meet new acquaintances in a relaxed environment.

Despite delegates looking a little fragile after a long first day and an even longer evening for a brave few, day two saw another round of impressive presentations with representation from the universities of Ulster, Cardiff, Aston and Glasgow. Once again a range of topics were up for discussion, with insight into screening strategies for the diagnosis of keratoconus in Down's syndrome, and the promise of a useful clinical tool for practitioners giving nutrition advice to patients with, or at risk of age-related macular degeneration.

High calibre presentations

The meeting drew to a close with the eagerly anticipated prize awards, a task made difficult for the judges who witnessed a high calibre of oral and poster presentations. Although last year's winner for best presentation, Andrew Logan from Glasgow Caledonian University, delivered another absorbing talk on a novel test for face perception, he missed out to the worthy winner, Samantha Strong, from the University of Bradford, with her research presentation Comparing contralateral and ipsilateral differences between human motion areas TO-1 and TO-2: An fMRI-guided rTMS study. Lesley Doyle, from the University of Ulster, was highly commended for her discussion on Exploration of accommodative deficits and vergence eye movements in Down's syndrome. The prize for best poster was awarded to Glasgow Caledonian University's Marianne Piano, for her contribution Perceptual visual distortions in juvenile amblyopia, with Corinne Fulcher, University of Bradford, also acknowledged for her poster Duration after-effects demonstrate spatial sensitivity.

Taking little credit for the overwhelming success of the event, organiser Professor Rachel North simply said: "Thanks to all of the delegates for making BCOVS 2014 such a vibrant and interesting meeting."

In keeping with tradition, the abstracts are due to be published in November's issue of Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, the research journal of the College of Optometrists. With the location of next year's meeting still up for debate, the organisers will have a tough task to match the standard of the event in recent years.
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Author:Beasley, Ian
Publication:Optometry Today
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 31, 2014
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