History of the Sally Letson Symposium
The Sally Letson Symposium, which had its first meeting in 1967, brings together six to eight renowned international experts in the field of ophthalmology for a symposium featuring one major topic.
It was the wish of General and Mrs. Letson that the symposium be of current interest to ophthalmologists and feature lectures, question periods, and an exchange of experience among attending ophthalmologists.
The first meetings were held at the old Ottawa General Hospital on Bruyère Street and later at the National Defence Medical Centre. When registration increased, the venue was again moved to the Westin Hotel.
In 1996, the meeting was transformed from a two-day event to a three-day meeting when the importance of Continuing Medical Education for Ophthalmic Medical Personnel and the difficulty obtaining credits at the main symposium became more evident with the initiation of the Ophthalmic Medical Technologist Training Program at the University of Ottawa Eye Institute.
In addition, two days was insufficient to cover many topics, especially those related to the more technical aspects of the subject. Now technicians, nurses, ophthalmologists, residents, and fellows attend all three days.
From 1997, the first day of the symposium was held at the Ottawa Congress Centre (previously the Grand Trunk Railway Station 1912-1966); since 2000, all three days have been at the Westin Hotel.
Despite the generous contributions from the Sally Letson Foundation, it would be clearly impossible to hold a meeting of this size - which in 1998 reached 500 with attendees from coast-to-coast across Canada, the United States, Europe, and Dominica - without the generous support of the major ophthalmic companies.
An average of 20 pharmaceutical and equipment companies contribute educational grants each year toward the meeting. There are no displays, and representatives from the companies often attend the scientific session.