The Observatory

Eyes on Hobart: RANZCO Congress

The most anticipated ophthalmic event of the year is nearly here!

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) Annual Scientific Congress, known to most ophthalmologists as simply ‘RANZCO’, will be held in Hobart from 2-6 November, 2013. The theme is Ophthalmology, an Art and a Science.

Now in its 45th year, RANZCO Congress is the largest event of its kind in Australia and New Zealand. It is held this year in my beautiful town of Hobart in Tasmania. Hobart is Australia’s smallest and most historic capital, and is known for its beautiful harbour, historical architecture and fresh produce.

Salamanca Markets in Hobart, courtesy of Tasmanian Tourism (provided by RANZCO)

Image courtesy of Tasmanian Tourism (provided by RANZCO): Salamanca Markets, held every Saturday in Hobart.

The scientific program put together by the RANZCO Scientific Program Committee consists of eight keynote lectures, five plenary sessions, 29 course and symposia and eight free paper sessions. In addition, there will be 78 posters and 17 films on display.

Delegates attending will hear presentations such as:

  • The Macula, the fovea and blood supply: What do we know and how does it help? Prof Jan Provis
  • Myths and misconceptions regarding glaucoma care. Prof Kuldev Singh
  • Is the patient experience the early warning sign for patient safety? Prof Julian Rait
  • Clinical Decision-making with Cataract Complications – ‘You Make the Call’. Dr David Chang

You can also hear me present the Hollows Lecture “Saving Sight, Healing a Nation,” which is about my experience in East Timor after they gained independence from Indonesia in 1999.  The price for this was very heavy. There was considerable loss of life, property and infrastructure. The whole country was virtually destroyed and came to a standstill. Needless to say, the fragile health system also collapsed. I will speak about the humanitarian response to this massive crisis, by a small group of Australian Volunteers.


With nearly 900 already registered the meeting is surpassing my expectations in terms of delegate numbers. I recommend you try or if you are yet to book accommodation. I’m told our registration process is easy, simply go to and follow the prompts.

The RANZCO Eye Foundation Art Exhibition

I’ve met many budding artists since becoming a RANZCO Fellow and encourage all to check out the RANZCO Eye Foundation Art Exhibition at the Congress.

Welcome reception at MONA

Keeping in theme we will have a welcome reception at the world famous Museum of Old and New Art. Living in Hobart I enjoy visiting this museum regularly, its art is interesting  (sometimes challenging!), and always changing. It’s also a very interesting building and lovely location on the Derwent river.  Attendees will have two hours to browse this quirky world class museum before retiring to enjoy a yummy Churrasco BBQ.

Senior/Retired Fellows of RANZCO

Again this year our Senior and Retired Fellows will have a dedicated lounge area where they can sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and chat to colleagues. There will also be a dinner for Senior Fellows on Monday 4 November at the Restaurant Tasman, in the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

International Development Workshop

The International Development Workshop this year will be held on Friday 1 November. The theme is Retina in the Developing World Context, with presenters and Chairs from the Pacific Islands region, Cambodia and RANZCO Fellows with an expertise in retina. I encourage all to attend.

General Practitioners’ Workshop

On Saturday 2 November, there will be a full day seminar for GPs;  “Insight into Eyes” this is a great opportunity for GPs to learn some essential ophthalmic knowledge. More information on this program and how to register please view:

Pre and Post Congress activities

Some fun golf and sailing activities have been organised, there are still plenty of places left for the sailing in particular, please see the Congress website for more information.

I look forward to welcoming you to Hobart this November!

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About the Author

A/Prof Nitin Verma AM (RANZCO Congress Convenor)

A/Prof Nitin Verma AM is a practicing Ophthalmologist in Hobart, Tasmania, and is a Clinical Associate Professor at the School of Medicine; University of Tasmania and is the Head of Ophthalmology at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Nitin’s work is in the areas of anterior segment, oculoplastics, telemedicine and medical retina. But close to his heart are development programs and eye-care delivery in remote and disadvantaged regions of the world, which he does in his ‘spare time’. Starting with eye care for leprosy patients in his student days, he went on to address the cataract backlog in rural India during the eighties, eye-care delivery in PNG and in Aboriginal communities during the nineties, and in East Timor since 2000. He is the founder and coordinator of the East Timor Eye Program. Currently, Nitin is a Board member of RANZCO, the RANZCO Eye Foundation and Foresight Australia. He serves on various committees of the Macular Degeneration Foundation, St Johns Ambulance and the Specialist International Medical Graduate committee of RANZCO. He is the president of Tasmanian Medical Volunteers. Nitin has received awards for his work including the Order of Australia, Order of Timor Leste, Hobart Citizen of the Year, Distinguished Service awards from RANZCO and the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology. He was a Tasmanian finalist for Australian of the year in 2013. Nitin is the Honorary Consul for Timor Leste in Tasmania and is involved with various programs to assist Timor Leste in its development by fostering closer ties between the two countries.View author's posts
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