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KeraClub 2021 to have COVID focus, details announced

Organisers of KeraClub 2021 have unveiled the speaker line up for this month’s event, which will have a particular focus on managing keratoconus in the COVID-19 era and beyond.

The annual meeting for Australians with keratoconus, their families, friends and the wider keratoconus and eyecare provider community is being held as a webinar on 18 October 5-6pm AEDT.

KeraClub is a joint initiative of the Save Sight Institute (SSI), The University of Sydney, and Keratoconus Australia, and features a line-up of leading academics in the field and patients with the condition. It will run under the theme: ‘Living with keratoconus today and beyond’ this year.

Among the speakers is ophthalmologist Professor Stephanie Watson who is the head of the Corneal Research Unit at SSI, leads the Corneal Unit at Sydney Eye Hospital, and is the chief investigator of the Save Sight Keratoconus Registry project.

Watson, also chair of the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia, will discuss issues arising from the COVID-19 lockdowns and, in particular, the need to seek immediate assistance if people with keratoconus experience a deterioration in vision.

She will also explore how the Save Sight Keratoconus Registry project is improving outcomes for people with the condition and assessing the likelihood that a person’s keratoconus will progress.

Associate Professor Mark Roth, OAM, will host a presentation called: ‘Allergy, dry eye, eye-rubbing and keratoconus.’

With the arrival of spring and its annual cargo of pollens, dust and hot northerly winds, Roth’s advice will be invaluable for many people with keratoconus – especially those wearing rigid contact lenses. An expert optometrist, he will also present his top contact lens management tips for keratoconus.

Dr Himal Kandel, the Kornhauser Research Associate at the Save Sight Keratoconus Registry, will present ground-breaking research from the Save Sight Keratoconus registry.

The research findings have had global impact with papers published in leading international journals and presented at 15 national and international conferences over the past year.

Ms Chloe Davies has been invited as a patient-speaker. She has lived with keratoconus for a long time and had her first corneal transplant when she was 12 years old.

“Patient’s perspectives are the centre of the KeraClub and we are excited to hear Ms Davies’ experience,” Kandel, who is also an expert on the patient-reported outcomes research, added.

Meanwhile, Mr Larry Kornhauser, OAM, the president of Keratoconus Australia will briefly describe the patient support activities conducted by the organisation.

As in previous years, KeraClub 2021 will be chaired by Ms Michelle Pritchard, an internationally reputed violist and violinist who has also lived most of her life with keratoconus.

Last year KeraClub moved to a webinar only format due to COVID-19 restrictions. Prior to 2020, the KeraClub was an in-person event held at the Sydney Eye Hospital.

The talks and panel discussion were followed by a social gathering where the participants actively engaged in the informal discussion.

“While the in-person interaction is greatly missed, organising it as a webinar has allowed us to reach a larger number of people and avoid the risks of COVID-19,” Watson said.

Registration for this event is free but essential. Click here for registration. Zoom details for the event will be emailed to the participants closer to the event. Please contact us at ssi.community@sydney.edu.au if you need more information.

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