By Jessica Labriola
Founded in 1538, the capital city of Colombia sits high within the centre of the country, nestled in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes mountain range. Bogota is home to over 8 million people and a rich, and often times storied, history that has positioned the capital city as an epicentre of economic and cultural growth in the country. Its rich history and progressive outlook also extends to optometry ‐ Colombia is one of the first countries in the Latin American region to formally recognize optometry as a profession and create a legal framework for the practice and licensing, with the broadest scope of practice and the second oldest optometry school in Latin America. Acknowledging a strong market with a focus on skill and education, the vision for Contact Lenses of the Americas Specialists Symposium (Class) came into focus for Carlos Mayoral, the key account manager for South America at Contamac.
“I wanted to ensure that the best speciality contact lens education is available for Latin American eye care practitioners in Latin America, and in Spanish. Key congresses are generally held in English, with the exception of the NCC in the Netherlands which is bilingual. Having the event in Bogota with simultaneous translation enabled us to make the latest knowledge available and accessible to a market which is eager to develop and learn more.”
As a contact lens and intraocular lens material manufacturer, supplying speciality contact lens manufacturers of countless lens designs, Contamac is both well positioned and committed to advance the profession of optometry and vision care by supporting education and facilitating knowledge sharing throughout the globe. With that in mind – Contamac and Carlos set out to have all eyes on Bogota for a two‐day educational meeting featuring speakers, vendors, and attendees sharing the latest in thought, research, and technology from around the world. Registrations for the event numbered 1,115 attendees from 22 countries.
Simultaneously translated in both English and Spanish, Class sought to bring the brightest minds together for a first‐of‐its kind meeting in the Americas. Bringing the latest research and thoughts from eight countries, world‐class lecturers covered speciality lens topics including: myopia management and global orthokeratology perspectives; scleral lenses and their indications, including treatment of ocular surface disease and the latest research on the scleral shape and the post lens tear reservoir; the utilization of custom soft lens, the prescribing of speciality lenses for paediatric patients and patients with challenging cases like keratoconus; fitting tricks for multifocal lenses and piggy‐back lenses, and a review of contact lens solutions, and speciality lens manufacturing, among many others.
Many speakers attended the entire event, chatting with attendees and learning from their colleagues. In commenting on the meeting, lecturer Cris Mertz said “I just wanted to thank and congratulate Contamac for the impressive conference you set up in Bogota. It was a pleasure and honour to participate.” The overall positive energy and engagement from attendees was observed by speaker Maria Walker, “I don’t often see the excitement for scleral lens education that we saw here at Class.”
Sabrina Lara, who presented an inspiring lecture on prescribing speciality lenses for paediatric patients, exquisitely summed up her experience of Class: “Latin Americans and international speakers gave this congress a close bond of friendship, collaboration and fellowship. Without a doubt, the best event that I have had the honour to attend.”
Sponsors and exhibitors from several countries and segments of the vision care industry were able to share the newest in literature, publications and professional societies, technologies, lens care products, and successful lens designs. The exhibit area was constantly buzzing each day, and every sponsor breakout workshop was completely full. With small groups of 20 attendees, the sponsor workshops offered intimate, mostly hands-on sessions for attendees to learn more about lens modalities, fitting technologies, and lens designs. Exhibitor from TruForm Optics, Don Dixon, was busy each day with workshops and interacting with attendees at his exhibit table. “This first time ever event appears to have been a great success,” commented Mr. Dixon after the meeting.
After working tirelessly to pull together an event that provided new insights, ideas, and opportunities for all that attended, the team at Contamac, and above all Carlos, plan to take on the challenge once more. Keep an eye out for Class 2019!
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