ICO Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Founding Society

Special Commemorative Book Reflects on 100 Years of Eye Care in Ireland

On Friday November 16 the Irish College of Ophthalmologists formally commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the Irish Ophthalmological Society (IOS) in 1918, the forerunner to the ICO, with a series of special events.   

The ICO Winter Meeting and Royal Academy of Medicine Ophthalmic Section session preceded the Annual Montgomery Lecture and Centenary Reception held that evening at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.   

Of great significance to the specialty of ophthalmology in Ireland in the early 20th century was the establishment of the Montgomery Lecture in 1916.  The 2018 Lecture titled “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” was delivered by Dr Michael Brennan, Past President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and presented a fitting occasion for the College to commemorate our Society’s centenary.    

The Montgomery Lecture was the first medical lecture founded in Trinity College Dublin. Through this lectureship, the small Montgomery family have retained their influence in ophthalmology and the name of Sir Robert Montgomery has become widely known, particularly in contemporary ophthalmology, alongside other Irish ophthalmological luminaries such as Sir Arthur Jacob, Sir Henry Rosborough Swanzy and Sir William Wilde.

The lecture was initially given as a research lecture by early career ophthalmologists, however since the Second World War, it has been presented by the leading figures in ophthalmology from both Ireland and abroad and including neurologists, behavioural scientists and molecular ophthalmologists, to the immeasurable advantage of Irish ophthalmology.  It was a great honour for the College to welcome Dr Michael Brennan, who has served as the American Academy of Ophthalmology's international envoy for many years, and on the AAO Global Advisors Committee. 

To mark the occasion, the ICO created a special commemorative booklet, providing an overview of the evolution and the delivery of ophthalmic services to patients in Ireland over the last number of decades.  A motivation in developing the commemorative booklet was also to highlight the influence the specialty has had on wider health care reforms in the interests of advancing and promoting the highest standards of patient care in Ireland. 

Commenting on the importance of the occasion, Dr Alison Blake, President of the ICO, said,  “It is a great honour and privilege to be president of the ICO at a time when we mark this significant milestone in the history of our specialty in Ireland.  There have been many incredible advances in eye care for patients over the past 100 years and Irish ophthalmologists have much to be proud of in this timeframe.  Many eye conditions, which would have previously led to certain sight loss for patients in the past, are now manageable or preventable as a result of significant advance in treatments and technologies. Our focus remains on continued evolution in the training of eye specialists in response to the eye care needs of our population and to ensure the highest standards of eye care delivery in Ireland are safeguarded.” 

Commenting on the key areas of focus for the ICO in the coming years, Dr Blake said, “In tandem with the fast pace in advances for the treatment of eye diseases has come the challenge of providing the required services to a growing and ageing population.  The demand for specialised medical eye care in Ireland greatly exceeds current capacity and waiting lists in ophthalmology are among the most numerous in the Irish health service.   The ICO has strongly advocated on the urgent need for extra resources necessary to ensure avoidable cases of sight loss are kept to a minimum.”

A key priority for the ICO is to ensure the required funding is made available to implement the recommendations outlined in the Model of Eye Care document and HSE Primary Care Eye Services Review Group Report, published in June 2017.

Dr Blake added, “The implementation of these keys actions will be essential in addressing the current unacceptably high waiting lists.  The ICO welcomed the recent opening of a dedicated, consultant led cataract unit at Nenagh Hospital, aimed at significantly reducing wait times for patients on the surgical wait list.  This follows the opening of a dedicated cataract unit at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin in July 2017.  Continued investment in order to bring the facilities to full operational capacity is however essential if waiting lists nationally are to be fully tackled and to ensure sustainable improvements to the service.”  














12th December 2018