Contact Connect 2017
I recently returned from the first annual Contact Connect 2017 conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Hosted by the Contact Lens Society of South Africa, the last such meeting was in 1990. The current generation of members saw the need to engage the wider South African community in the latest developments in our field. Attendees came from not only South Africa but from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Australia and the UK. Jason Jedlicka from Indiana University and I were the American representatives.
Social media has indeed made the world a smaller place and many of the doctors were familiar with trends in scleral lens fitting, RGP techniques, dry eye diagnosis, and management. They also face the same issues as we have in the US regarding reimbursement from medical payers and online retailing. South Africa has their own unique set of challenges which includes high levels of unemployment, a large indigent population, and a weak currency. The latter makes importation of lenses, equipment, and supplies very expensive.
Nonetheless, the African optometrists we met were very knowledgeable, eager to learn and incorporate current treatment modalities whenever possible. Conference subjects covered a wide–range of topics such as dry-eye, the myopia epidemic, myopia control, penetration of daily disposable contact lenses, social media utilization, pediatric contact lens fitting, use of OCT in the anterior segment, prosthetic lenses as well as robust Q & A in the panel discussions.
Jason Jedlicka gave talks on keratoconus and topography, correction of presbyopia and scleral lens fitting. My talks centered on an intro to scleral lenses, challenging cases and building a scleral lens specialty practice.
Despite the barriers to be overcome we left feeling that optometry in South Africa is in good hands with these dedicated professionals. Cannot wait to go back. For more information see www.clssa.co.za