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50th Anniversary: ICOP
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Building International Community with ICOP 


As we celebrate our 50 years as a Society, we are looking back at where we have been, but always with an eye on where we are headed. An example is our long association with the International Conference on Ophthalmic Photography continues and we are happily anticipating ICOP next year in Rotterdam.

The OPS was Johnny Justice’s dream for building a community of ophthalmic photographers, and in a short time, we had members in Europe and Japan as well as in the United States. In a few more years, one of our Founders, Don Wong, had an expanded vision of a coalition of ophthalmic imaging associations, including the OPS, from around the globe.

A senior photographer at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City, Don had increased his knowledge of this new and evolving profession by attending some international ophthalmology conferences. He was anxious to learn how ophthalmic photography was being done in other countries, and knew that other photographers would benefit by expanding their horizons as well.  In 1983, the Long-range Planning committee was formed within the OPS with Don as Chair, and among the goals of that group was to design and produce an international meeting.

With the generous “hosting” of the first ICOP meeting by the International Congress of Ophthalmology (ICO) in Rome in 1986, the International Forum on Ophthalmic Photography featured speakers from seven countries and abstracts from three other countries, addressing the state of ophthalmic imaging in their homelands.  The first ICOP was an unqualified success, building the foundation for an international community of ophthalmic photographers and raising the status of the profession in the eyes of ophthalmologists and the commercial sector.

The next ICOP was held in Singapore in 1990. Excellent speakers from the Japanese Ophthalmic Photography Society (JOPS) and the British Ophthalmic Photography Association (BOPA) joined OPS members in providing innovative scientific sessions, providing an international forum for sharing different approaches to similar problems, and building professional relationships.

Toronto was chosen as the site for the 1994 meeting, and new opportunities to expand the ICOP program were presented.  For the 1994 ICOP, each participating society, OPS, BOPA, and JOPS presented their own unique sessions filled with presentations by their members.

By 1996, the ICOP committee which was comprised of members from OPS, BOPA, and JOPS, voted to launch into a new era of independence from ICO, and chose Edinburgh as the location for the next meeting in 1998.  At that time, it was decided that to insure the health and future of ICOP, the focus on collaboration in educational programs would remain the key emphasis of the group.


If you think you have observed a pattern of changing meeting locations to facilitate attendance by different groups in different locales, you are correct!   Adelaide, Australia was chosen as the site for ICOP in 2002.  With the Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustrators (AIMBI) joining the ICOP team, new features were introduced, and the meeting footprint was expanded to four days, allowing for time to show attendees the amazing culture, flora and fauna of “Down Under”. 

By 2006, it was time to return to North America, and San Francisco was the setting allowing ICOP attendees to appreciate all of its delights.  The ICOP planning committee met to discuss the 2010 meeting and Europe was chosen as the site.  Ophthalmic imagers from Holland attended the planning meeting and returned home to present potential meeting plans to their ophthalmic imaging society, Oogheelkundige Fotografie Nederland, (OFN).

Unfortunately, global world finance issues deeply impacted the feasibility of holding ICOP in The Netherlands in 2010 as originally planned.  Relying on their capable and experienced meeting planners, the Ophthalmic Imaging Association (previously BOPA) produced an amazing meeting in 2011, in the extraordinary setting of historical Oxford University.  The excellent educational content lived up to the high standards of the meeting site.

In keeping with the desire to rotate ICOP meetings to different global locations, the OPS offered to take ICOP once again to Canada and host the 2014 meeting in Toronto.  This meeting boasted a large contingent of attendees from across the globe, including Mr. Kulwant Sehmi, who had been a presenter at the very first ICOP in 1986. During this Toronto meeting, a group of dedicated ICOP fans met to discuss its future and potential locations.  The desire to return to Asia was expressed with great enthusiasm, and Singapore National Eye Centre was highly recommended as a potential site for the meeting.

Contact with an ICOP friend and colleague, led to ICOP 2017, at the Singapore National Eye Centre.   This outstanding conference assured continued interest in Don Wong’s dream of an international collaboration in support of maintaining an international community of ophthalmic imaging where knowledge and expertise can be shared. Since the original meeting in 1986, there have been nine ICOP conferences, three each in Europe, Asia, and North America.  The success of ICOP has always been dependent on the capable, dedicated hands of ophthalmic imagers from around the world who love the ophthalmic imaging profession and seek to continue the ICOP traditions of education and community.

Despite its historic origins and exciting locales, ICOP is truly for everyone!  There is no pretense or intimidation!  The meetings are based on collaboration, the hosts and sites are warm and inviting, and attendees share the same passion for the profession of ophthalmic imaging.  Having attended each meeting since 1994, I can assure you that ICOP offers some outstanding opportunities:  the chance to travel to amazing places, to make and maintain wonderful friendships, and to expand knowledge of ophthalmic imaging by learning how it is done in different countries!        

The future of ICOP now lies in the hands of the OFN and the next meeting will take place April 17-19, 2020 aboard the SS Rotterdam, a retired ship which is now located in the heart of the city of Rotterdam.  Mark your calendars now and plan to attend yet another unique and outstanding international program.  With the support of the international ophthalmic imaging community, ICOP should be an excellent source of education and inspiration for another 30+ years.

Abstract Submission Form for ICOP 2020

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