How COVID-19 Influenced the ARVO 2021 Agenda

May 1, 2021
Kevin Kunzmann

From transmissibility to the introduction of remote visits, an expert discusses the role of the pandemic virus on the annual ophthalmology meeting's topics.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2021 Virtual Sessions features a seven-day agenda of clinical trial presentation and discussion around the various advances being made in ophthalmic and retina care.

The annual meeting, relegated to virtual status for a second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, took advantage of its remote presentations to provide extensive materials around a litany of research topics: retina, telemedicine, gene therapy, and dozens more—COVID-19 in ophthalmology included.

In an interview with HCPLive during ARVO 2021, Joshua Mali, MD, an ophthalmologist with The Eye Assosciates, celebrated the meeting’s agenda and virtual capabilities, calling this year’s rendition “a victory itself.”

“The fact we’re seeing despite the COVID-19 restrictions, shortages of supplies, and disruptions in clinical trials…we have been able to continue very exciting research and advance the field of ophthalmology,” Mali said.

Highlighting some of the agenda’s key topics, Mali expressed greater interest in the planned discussion around COVID-19’s effect on vision and eye health, as well as the eye’s role as a transmissible source for SARS-CoV-2.

“We’re trying to learn more about that, refine our current theories and understanding of how that all actually works, as well as its effects inside the eye,” Mali explained.

On the subject of how COVID-19 introduced a greater extent of telemedicine and remote visits to the field in the last year, Mali reflected on how he expected such innovations to reach ophthalmology in this decade—just never to this level of urgency and expediency.

“Certainly, we’ve had many advances recently with artificial intelligence in eye care, and I think that trend is going to continue, and ARVO will help to shed some light on some newer thinks being looked at, in that realm,” Mali said.