The Cornea and Contact Lens Residents Symposium

September 14, 2018 Posted by GPLI


It all started August 14th and 15th, 1999.  While Tiger Woods was winning the PGA golf tournament, the first GPLI Cornea and Contact Lens Residents Symposium was held at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.  The idea for such a program was born the year before in Berkeley, CA during a Cornea and Contact Lens Educators advisory meeting.  Ursula Lotzkat and I then discussed the potential merits of such a meeting including educating the future leaders in contact lenses, not to mention the individuals who will represent important contact lens clinical instructors for optometry students.  Therefore, the decision was to hold it soon after they entered their residency.  

Dr. Joe Barr was gracious enough to recommend his institution, The Ohio State University College of Optometry for the location of this program.  That was typical of Joe as we held our first optometry students' GPLI program at OSU a few years before at his request.  Since that time it has been held at Ohio State every other year (i.e. 10 times total), most recently via the support of Dr. Nicky Lai.  It has also been held at the UMSL College of Optometry four times, the Southern College of Optometry three times (thank you Dr. Dan Fuller), and once each at the Michigan College of Optometry, UAB College of Optometry, and Houston College of Optometry.  It is tentatively scheduled to return to Ohio State again in August of 2019.

The 20th annual symposium was held August 23rd - 26th at the UMSL College of Optometry in St. Louis.  It was attended by a record 37 cornea and contact lens residents, post-graduate students, and military.  This program was very well organized (as always) by Ursula Lotzkat (WINK Productions, Inc.) - who has been the coordinator of 19 of the 20 programs - with very good assistance from Dr. Julie DeKinder, Chief of the Contact Lens Service, and Dr. Vinita Henry, Director of Clinical Services at UMSL.  The residents had the opportunity to have all of the workshop programs provided at the College of Optometry's new Patient Care Center.  The faculty included Stephanie Woo, Tom Quinn, Randy Kojima, Craig Norman, Julie DeKinder and myself who were joined by workshop faculty Vinita Henry, Rob Ensley, Beth Henderson, and Jessica Tu.  CLMA Administrative Director, Pam Witham, also attended the symposium.  No less than 18 CLMA member laboratory and button manufacturers helped sponsor the event and were invaluable with arrangements, including transportation of the residents.

The program, as always, was very comprehensive as it pertained to both didactic and hand-on workshop programs.  Beginning with several lectures on Thursday afternoon, it ended on Sunday afternoon.  In between, there were lectures on GP materials, evaluation, and fitting, corneal reshaping, contact lens corneal topography application, scleral lenses, custom soft and hybrid lenses, presbyopic GP fitting, myopia control, writing for publication, public speaking, and being an effective clinical instructor, GP toric fitting, billing and coding for the irregular cornea, topography-designed contact lenses, fitting the irregular cornea with corneal GP lenses, and case studies.  Of course, the hallmark of the residents program is always the workshops and these programs included sclerals, multifocals, torics, topography-designed lenses, irregular cornea corneal lenses, and corneal reshaping.

With one-third of the 70+ GPLI Advisory Board members having participated in the GPLI Cornea and Contact lens Residents Symposium in a past life it is evident that the residents do represent our future leaders.  With that in mind, the GPLI - in 2017 - established the GPLI Residents Advisory Board to assist in communicating GPLI programs - including student-based webinars - to optometry students.  It was quite successful in 2017 and there has been much interest by the 2018-19 cornea and contact lens residents to serve in this capacity this coming year.

In summary, it is important to mention that this is certainly my favorite meeting of the year.  Tom Quinn and I often comment on how enjoyable it is to get to know and help educate a wonderful group of young leaders who have dedicated themselves to becoming specialists in contact lenses and are eager to learn as much as possible to achieve their goal.  I especially want to express my appreciation to the CLMA for continuing to enthusiastically support such a valuable educational symposium.

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