COS Annual Meeting Highlights

A successful Annual Meeting in Québec City

The 2019 Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) Annual Meeting was held in Québec City from June 13 to 16 and was attended by 1,450 delegates who benefitted from the knowledge of keynote speakers from Canada and around the world. This year's theme was "Leadership and Advocacy in Ophthalmology" and featured diverse scientific presentations, workshops and discussions that focused on leadership in healthcare and the important role of advocacy. New this year, the COS hosted a full-day, joint symposium with the Société Française d'Ophtalmologie (SFO) that explored a wide range of topics in ophthalmology. In addition, Dr. Richard Mimeault, a physician advisor with the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) ran a workshop on "Informed Consent". Here are other highlights from this year's meeting.

Scientific programming that focused on education and fun

As with each COS Annual Meeting, the agenda was crammed full of informative and educational scientific programming. This year's meeting featured sessions on topics such as "Engaging the Future of Ophthalmology - How can we prepare our in-training physicians for the future?" and "Cutting Edge Strategies for Common Vision Problems." The scientific program was well-attended throughout the annual meeting and was led by experts in their fields both within Canada and from around the globe. However, this year, COS also injected a healthy dose of fun into the scientific programming.

On Saturday morning (June 15), delegates participated in the inaugural "Survivor: Cataract Island," a fun-filled moderated debate based on the popular "Survivor" television show. The session featured a tribal council and voting to determine who would prevail in the debate. Host Dr. Devesh Varma introduced two tribes, each comprised of six surgeons, and led the delegates through a debate on the use of Femtosecond lasers, exploring the existing medical evidence and pros and cons involved. A second debate was held on multifocal lenses and discussed whether less than 5% uptake is appropriate. This debate featured the perspectives of experts from Canada and the US. Lastly, the two winning survivors shared best practice pearls of wisdom from their own practices, providing participants with a practical takeaway from the early morning event.

In the same vein of infusing this year's annual meeting with fun, delegates also participated in the first ever "Xtreme Cataract Games," which saw Dr. Ike Ahmed lead three competitors through grueling case presentations that highlighted everyday clinical best practices and surgical hurdles. Drs. Guillermo Rocha, Dominique B. Massicotte and Ken Rosenthal shared their expertise and wisdom, which was used to suggest strategies for extreme cataract surgeries.

Also, on the Saturday morning, Dr. Phil Hooper, Chair of COS' Council on Advocacy, provided an update on the organization's efforts to raise the profile of ophthalmology in Canada and to advocate on behalf of members nationwide. The presentation was held during Current Concepts II and extremely well-attended. Feedback following the advocacy update was overwhelmingly positive, as was the response from members to the "See The Possibilities" videos that have been produced to date - spotlighting the ways in which ophthalmologists help their patients Most importantly, members had an opportunity to hear about how the campaign has helped the COS to increase its "Share of Voice" in the media and to position the skill and innovation of ophthalmologists with the media, the public, government and other health care professionals.

Other scientific programming included the amusingly titled "Do IOU an IOL? …and other issues in paediatric anterior segment," "Glaucoma Frontiers," and "Nightmare in my OR." Of course, these titles were for sessions that covered subjects that were quite serious and aimed to help ophthalmologists in their everyday practice by providing updates on the latest surgical procedures and techniques. There were also sessions on "Best Practices in Retinal Disease Management," and "The Changing Landscape of Ophthalmic Disease and Vision Care."

This year marked the 10th anniversary of our Surgical Skills Transfer Courses (STCs). Since their inception in 2010, the courses have grown to host upwards of 150 participants annually. This year, we built upon many in-demand STCs, including "Suturing an Intraocular Lens and How to Save Yourself, Anterior Vitrectomy," and "Microinvasive Glaucoma Surgery and Adjuncts to Cataract Surgery." We also offered a new course on "Laser Simulation and Cost-Effective Video Recording." Participants rotated through several stations, including laser simulation, smartphone adapters for slit lamps and microscopes, and modifications to point of view cameras for microscope recording, surgical ergonomics and non-microscope-based surgery. Thank you to all our course directors and instructors for developing and delivering these world-class hands-on learning opportunities that offer our members MOC Section 3 credits.

One of the many highlights in Québec City was the "Women in Ophthalmology Symposium - Leading by Overcoming Obstacles" held on Sunday (June 16). Featuring a panel discussion with keynote speaker Dr. Tara McCannel, Director of the Ophthalmic Oncology Center at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles, California; Dr. Yvonne Molgat; and moderator Dr. Femida Kherani. The panel tackled the main challenges women in ophthalmology encounter and techniques for overcoming those obstacles.

Leading-Edge Research

Research is a big part of each annual meeting, and that was certainly true this year. COS received over 250 abstract submissions from trainees and practicing ophthalmologists. With the support of our abstract reviewers, we were pleased to accept 117 paper presentations and 93 posters, for an acceptance rate of 82%. If you missed the exciting research presented during the annual meeting, our abstract booklets provide access to a written version of each accepted paper and poster presentation.

Each year, COS presents the "COS Awards for Excellence in Ophthalmic Research" to deserving residents, fellows and medical students who are engaged in original, innovative research at a Canadian university. In 2019, the excellent quality of the research led the paper adjudication committee to a tie decision, and, for the first time ever, COS awarded four deserving winners with the prize. COS is proud to recognize the following 2019 winners.


  • First prize - Intraocular antibodies as a novel target for understanding and treating vascular diseases of the eye · Jacob Rullo, Steven Bae, Wilma Hopkins, Isabella Irrcher, Manpartap Bal, Tom Gonder, Sanjay Sharma
  • Second prize - Acetylation of COX-2: An immunoresolving therapy · James J. Armstrong, Liu Hong, Cindy M. L. Hutnik
  • Second prize - A large international study of LHON epidemiology · Alexander L. Pearson, Lissa Poincenot, Rustum Karanjia
  • Third prize - Comparison of the diagnostic sensitivity of macular ganglion cell layer thickness, peripapillary retinal nerve fibre layer thickness, and Bruch membrane opening-minimum rim width in detecting glaucoma · Jennifer L. Gao, Jack Quach, Marcelo T. Nicolela, Lesya M. Shuba, Balwantray C. Chauhan, Jayme R. Vianna


  • First prize - Improving glaucoma surgery with the small molecule ALK-5 inhibitor SB-431542 · Jim T. Denstedt, James J. Armstrong, Cindy M. L. Hutnik
  • Second prize - Long-term visual outcomes of the Boston keratoprosthesis type I · Andrei-Alexandru Szigiato, Cristina Bostan, Taylor Nayman, Mona Harissi-Dagher
  • Third prize - Amyloid-beta localization in the human retina: Exploring potentials of early and non-invasive ocular detection of Alzheimer's disease · Qinyuan (Alis) Xu, Sieun Lee, Veronica Hirsch-Reinshagen, Ian Mackenzie, Robin Hsiung, Geoffrey Charm, Elliott To, Kailun Jiang, Alice Liu, Marinko Sarunic, Mirza Faisal Beg, Jing Cui, Eleanor To, Joanne Matsubara

A heartfelt congratulations to all our winners.

More about their research.

Exhibit space sold out again!

Again this year, the exhibition space sold out and attracted leading industry partners who erected ever more elaborate booths and displays for delegates to enjoy. The Exhibit Hall in Québec City attracted hundreds of attendees who gathered to mingle, talk shop and network in a dynamic and professional environment.

COS Annual General Meeting

The COS Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place on June 14, 2019. Updates were provided by COS President Dr. Yvonne Buys and the Executive Director/CEO, Jennifer Brunet-Colvey. Dr. Amin Kherani, Treasurer, introduced auditor Ms. Stephanie Courneyea from McCay Duff LLP who presented the audited financial statements for 2018. Dr. Colin Mann was elected President-Elect of the COS, Dr. Jamie Taylor was re-elected for another three-year term as Secretary of the Society, and Dr. Ravi Dookeran was elected Treasurer. Dr. Guillermo Rocha's term as Immediate Past-President on the COS Board was ending in June and he was thanked for all of his contributions to the COS over the years. Dr. Amin Kherani was thanked for his three years of service as Treasurer. Dr. Buys expressed her gratitude to Dr. Allan Slomovic for his contributions over the past six years on the Board of Directors of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) and to Dr. Rand Simpson for his 25 years of service as the COS representative on the International Council of Ophthalmology and in supporting the World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC). As Ms. Brunet-Colvey will be retiring in September 2019, she was thanked for her 10 years of service to the Society and presented with the inaugural "Friend of Canadian Ophthalmology" award in recognition of the significant impact she has had on the COS and Ophthalmology in Canada.

Welcome Reception

The COS Annual Meeting includes social activities each year, none bigger than the opening night Welcome Reception. This year, delegates enjoyed a truly magnificent reception held on the evening of June 13 in the Hilton Hotel across from the Québec City Convention Centre. Patrons enjoyed authentic Quebec poutine, as well as hors-d'oeuvres and cocktails. Guests were also treated to live music provided by a local band of ophthalmologists who played a mix of contemporary songs and classic French folk music. The welcome reception once again provided an unmatched networking opportunity for new ophthalmologists and experienced professionals.

A deserving Lifetime Achievement Award for Dr. Hélène Boisjoly

The COS was pleased to provide its 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Hélène Boisjoly for her outstanding and ongoing contributions to ophthalmology and health care in Canada.

After obtaining a degree in ophthalmology from Université de Sherbrooke in 1981, Dr. Boisjoly specialized in cornea research at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Schepens Eye Research Institute, affiliated with Harvard University (1981-1983). In 1992, she obtained a Master of Public Health degree from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. She was a researcher and fellow at the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQ-S) from 1986 to 2001 and worked at Université Laval (1983-1993) before becoming head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, affiliated with the Université de Montréal (1993-1998).

Dr. Boisjoly's research interests include transplant immunology, viral diseases such as ocular herpes, and functional outcomes after corneal transplantation. She received funding without interruption until 2013, publishing more than 80 original scientific articles. She has trained 120 residents and 50 graduate students, including several fellows. Since 2011, she has served as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Université de Montréal; she has also been a member of several boards of directors and organizations for the advancement of science and medical education. In this capacity, she was president of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (2014-2016) and since 2012, has been a member of the prestigious M8 Alliance, an international network of universities dedicated to improving global health. In December 2018, Dr. Boisjoly was appointed a member of the Order of Canada. The COS was honoured to recognize the work of Dr. Boisjoly.

Special Thank You

The COS would like to extend a special thank you to the international keynote speakers, Canadian invited speakers and abstract presenters who lent us their time and expertise and provided rich education and learning opportunities. We also extend a big thanks to all the delegates who attended sessions, and the sponsors who gave us their generous support. And we sincerely thank the Session Chairs and STC Course Directors who developed phenomenal educational programming, and COS staff under the leadership of our Annual Meeting Chair, Dr. Mona Harissi-Dagher. Thank you for making this year's meeting such a success.

Additional photos from this year's annual meeting and exhibition will be sent to COS members separately in the coming weeks. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next COS Annual Meeting and Exhibition taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, June 25-28, 2020.