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Think Globally, Act Locally

In May, I attended my first large ophthalmology meeting – ASCRS – held in the city of San Diego, California. It was a hugely exciting few days, meeting people face-to-face, taking in presentations and papers from leading thinkers, and discovering the latest devices and technology. But traveling over 10,000 miles across the Earth was also a great reminder of the fact that ophthalmology is a global field of science and medicine, which got me thinking about the importance of international collaboration.

In the aftermath of COVID-19, when so many meetings went virtual, there was something special about being in the same room with so many people all sharing ideas and forging connections. The collective wisdom gained from these kinds of collaborative moments propels the field forward, fostering innovation, promoting new ideas and ultimately helping deliver optimal outcomes for patients – no matter where in the world they might be.

Global collaboration helps address the worldwide burden of eye diseases and vision impairment. By forging international partnerships, ophthalmologists can play a crucial role in helping to build healthcare infrastructure and capacity around the world. A great example of this is the World Health Organization’s recent Package of Eye Care Interventions developed in consultation with ophthalmologists and experts from across the globe (1).

Additionally, collaborative initiatives can help establish telemedicine networks, enabling remote consultations and diagnostics. By reaching across borders, we have the power to bridge gaps in care and ensure that all individuals, regardless of their geographic location, get the access they need and deserve. A recent academic review of the available literature showed that teleophthalmology has been hugely impactful and will almost certainly continue to be so, especially in light of the aging global population and the still colossal unmet needs in various retinopathies and glaucoma (2).

But (as my presence at ASCRS emphasized to me) beyond all these tangible benefits, global collaboration cultivates a spirit of camaraderie – a shared purpose. By engaging with colleagues, policy makers, and other scientists from around the world, we gain a deeper understanding of local challenges and expose ourselves to alternative perspectives.

By thinking globally and acting locally, we unlock new possibilities, foster innovation, address healthcare disparities, and transform the landscape of ophthalmology. If you or colleagues are working on global ophthalmology projects – from large scale research to building healthcare systems – please get in touch; we would love to bring your stories to a global audience.

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  1. WHO, “Package of Eye Care Interventions,” Available at:
  2. Joanna Dolar-Szczasny et al., “Evaluating the Efficacy of Teleophthalmology in Delivering Ophthalmic Care to Underserved Populations: A Literature Review,” J Clin Med, 12, 3161 (2023). PMID: 37176602.
About the Author
Jon Greenaway

After almost a decade working in academic writing, I wanted to find a new challenge that would let me keep telling stories, learning new things and experiencing the excitement of scientific innovation. That’s what makes The Ophthalmologist a perfect fit for me.

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