Kuldev and I first met during ARVO 1996 when I was still a corneal fellow at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. I had befriended Don Budenz, who had recently joined as faculty in the Glaucoma Service. Don had invited myself and my wife to perhaps the first of what was to become an annual institution; the famous ARVO parties that Don and Sue Budenz hosted every year at their house in North Miami. It was in Kuldev’s car on the way to the very last of these parties in 2012, 16 years later and just before ARVO forsook Fort Lauderdale, that we hatched the concept for what would (four months later to the exact day) become the Ophthalmology Futures European Forum 2012.
Somewhere in between we grew to know each other better: we would frequently meet at TVT study investigator meetings at both ARVO and AAO from 2002 onwards. Kuldev rose to stardom at the forefront of every controversy in glaucoma, challenging mythology and flaky theory. His articles often had witty titles such as: “Anti-metabolite application: Science or Voodoo?” and “Target Pressure – the ophthalmologist’s Holey Grail”.
Our friendship was reinforced when Kuldev kindly invited me to speak at AAO glaucoma subspecialty day in 2002 when he was program director, which for a European was a great honour.
Kuldev quickly became an international opinion leader in glaucoma and was often a speaker at European Glaucoma Society congresses, notably in Berlin in 2008 when he surprised me after I had finished delivering a long-winded monologue on tube implants to a completely packed and pitch-dark room. The usual request for questions was met with absolute silence, disturbed some moments later by a disembodied voice piping up from the very back in the dark with a penetrating question on my technique; Kuldev.
When I got in to the car with Kuldev at Fort Lauderdale to drive to Don and Sue’s house in North Miami yet again in 2012, I didn’t think that I would end the ride with a long term partnership but working with Kuldev on the Ophthalmology Futures Forums is a delight. He is an inspiration in terms of his endless supply of fantastic ideas and enthusiasm, and his fast, clear thinking. The whole team thoroughly enjoys working with him.
We are now looking forward to our 5th Ophthalmology Futures Forum in Barcelona, which we hope will be an exciting meeting. Kuldev now brings his witty titles, as well as his business acumen, extensive high level connections and keen eye for what topics are hot and what is likely to become the next “big thing” in ophthalmic innovation to Ophthalmology Futures.
Keith and I are both alumni of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Fellowship Program in Miami, FL. For the two decades that ARVO was held in Ft. Lauderdale, Don Budenz, who was my co-fellow at Bascom Palmer in 1991-92 and longtime friend thereafter, hosted a reunion party of former fellows at his North Miami home during the meeting. Keith and I regularly saw each other at these dinners and also at investigator meetings for numerous surgical glaucoma studies that were held at ARVO and AAO.
Keith and I shared a common view of glaucoma practice and he became my go-to person for glaucoma care in Europe. Keith took great care of friends and family members that were visiting London or were based anywhere in Europe. We also saw each other at the European Glaucoma Society meetings held in Florence, Berlin and Madrid.
Our relationship became stronger when Keith invited me to be one of the visiting speakers at the Moorfields Glaucoma meeting in January, 2011 where he was a great host during my three days in London. Besides being a terrific ophthalmologist, Keith had established a reputation for putting on creative meetings that were most enjoyable for both the speakers and the audience.
In May, 2012, while attending ARVO, Keith and I decided that there was a need for an Innovation Meeting in Europe. Partly due to regulatory hurdles in the United States, novel ophthalmic innovation was increasingly coming from Europe yet their was no European forum that brought together all stakeholders in moving the field forward. We believed that ideally, such a meeting should be driven by ophthalmologists, and include innovators, investors, regulators as well as clinicians. The most prominent European ophthalmic congress was ESCRS and we decided to have our first Ophthalmology Futures meeting just preceding the September, 2012 ESCRS meeting in Milan, Italy.
It was a daunting task to put together a fully funded new meeting in four months but Keith and I quickly realized that we complemented each other well in this project. The subsequent 2013 meeting in Amsterdam was larger and given the strong interest expressed by all stakeholders, we held a third such forum in Tokyo preceding the World Ophthalmology Congress in April, 2014. The Tokyo forum was particularly special as in addition to our usual showcase of new ophthalmic technology, we had panels that focused on using technology to improve eyecare in the developing world as well as on global regulatory issues in device approval.
Our fourth Ophthalmology Futures meeting in London 2014 was the best to date and our partnership continues to be most enjoyable.