At SECO 2013, Jimmy D. Bartlett, OD, Paul Ajamian, OD, and Louis Catania, OD, took a look back and a look ahead at optometrists’ involvement with therapeutics.
This year’s annual SECO congress in Atlanta offered something “old” and a wealth of what’s “new.” The new was, of course, the latest in continuing education courses—from scleral lens classes to injection workshops, from diabetes courses to experts offering their insights on femtosecond lasers.

As for the “old,” SECO 2013 provided a compelling walk down memory lane as SECO celebrated its 90th anniversary and nine decades worth of milestones as a leader in optometric education.

The meeting, held February 27 to March 3 in Atlanta, kicked off with a tribute to two optometric pioneers­—Lou Catania, OD, and Jimmy Bartlett, OD, DOS, ScD—who played a major role in shaping optometric scope of practice and continuing education. SECO CE Chairman Paul C. Ajamian, OD, moderated this memorable session, “Therapeutics: A Look Back, A Look Forward.”

“We now practice in a profession where topical and oral medications are used routinely,” Dr. Ajamian told the packed crowd. “We practice in a profession where in Kentucky, West Virginia and Oklahoma, optometrists can use lasers and perform minor procedures. We practice in a profession where we are finally valued and recognized as primary eye care providers.”

But, it wasn’t always that way, Dr. Ajamian recalled. “I remember when we were excluded from the Medicare program. I remember when the Mydriacyl and proparacaine were locked in cabinets at school, and we had to refer to ophthalmology to use them. I remember sneaking antibiotics into tear bottles to treat the dreaded pink eye. I remember when surgery patients were referred out and never came back. I remember thinking that the only lectures I would ever hear on ocular disease would be given by ophthalmologists.”

When Dr. Catania took the podium, he quipped, “The only thing worse than an old man reminiscing is two old men reminiscing.” But, in looking back, he reminded the audience of optometry’s “inferiority complex” in the 1970s and 1980s—and how much things have changed since.

When Dr. Bartlett spoke, he acknowledged that, in some ways, things haven’t changed enough. He urged the audience, “Don’t be timid about using steroids. QID is not enough! The more frequently you dose the steroid, the greater the anti-inflammatory effect.”

The Education Destination
Along with Drs. Catania and Bartlett’s stellar presentation, SECO 2013 also featured more than 240 continuing education courses, more than 100 world-renowned speakers, and nearly 300 industry-leading companies.

Incoming SECO President Darby Chiasson, OD, and Immediate Past President Ron Foreman, OD, cut the ribbon to open the exhibit hall, Optometry’s Marketplace.
The OD program featured 109 courses, including three symposia, seven joint-education courses and a special course titled “Teaming Up with Pediatric Ophthalmology.”

The Allied Ophthalmic Professionals (AOP) program included 132 courses, including seven review sessions and the fifth annual AOP General Session.

SECO launched a new audience-interaction innovation this year during the special session “Refractive/Cataract Surgery: The Future Revealed,” which featured Paul Karpecki, OD, Jason Brinton, MD, and Tyrie Jenkins, MD. During the session, each audience member had a remote control device they used to weigh in on several poll questions posed by Dr. Karpecki, while the expert panel discussed cutting-edge laser procedures and surgical techniques.

Another SECO 2013 highlight was the special session “Hot Topics in Glaucoma: Burning Questions Answered,” with Michael Chaglasian, OD, John Flanagan, BSc, PhD, MCOptom, and Leo Semes, OD. The course covered the most current topics in glaucoma diagnosis and treatment, including using technology to detect glaucoma progression and exploring the relationship between intraocular pressure, ocular perfusion pressure and cerebrospinal fluid pressure.

SECO 2013 offered something for everyone, including the popular special session “The Peripheral Retina: Front and Center,” presented by Anthony A. Cavallerano, OD, and Steven Ness, MD. These two retinal experts shared their insight on causes of retinal detachment and proper management of the patient presenting with risk factors for retinal separation.

Another SECO 2013 crowd favorite was “Is There a Subspecialist in the House?” with Joseph Shovlin, OD, and colleagues Thomas Boland, MD, Arthur Jordan, DO, and John Lee, MD, of the Northeastern Eye Institute of Scranton, Pa. The doctors presented treatment options for a variety of subspecialties including neuro-ophthalmology and cornea/anterior segment disease, including medications for neurologic conditions, intravitreal devices/implants for drug delivery, collagen cross-linking for corneal conditions, and new techniques in lamellar surgery.

London Calling
Mark your calendars for October 6 when SECO, along with the UK’s Association of Optometrists, will host a joint education meeting at the AOP headquarters in London.

The meeting will feature 12 hours of CET and COPE-approved continuing education as well as a guest program, networking events and plenty of opportunities to see England’s capitol city. For more information, visit
Of course, a SECO Congress would not be complete without Optometry’s Marketplace, which featured some 300 companies showcasing new trends and the most recent product introductions and technologies in one expansive exhibit hall.

Last but not least, SECO and the Armed Forces Optometric Society teamed up to allow uniformed service members an opportunity to attend SECO 2013 for free. The two organizations made this decision after learning that AFOS members would have had to pay out of pocket to attend SECO because of unexpected federal budget cuts.