World-class ophthalmologist and author Jack Kanski passed away on 5 January 2019. To honour his life’s work, the inaugural Optrafair Lecture has been renamed the Kanski Lecture.

Stuart Burn, FMO Chair, said: “We are delighted to announce that Optrafair’s keynote lecture from 2020 onwards will now be called The Kanski Lecture. Jack Kanski passed away earlier this year and was one of the world’s foremost optical educationalists. His contribution to optics was immense and Optrafair is thrilled that Jack Kanski’s wife, Valerie, has given her approval to use the Kanski name for its keynote lecture.”The Kanski Lecture has been awarded to leading ophthalmologist Pearse Keane. Having graduated to Master of Science and Doctor of Medicine at University College Dublin, Keane is now consultant Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NIHR Clinician Scientist at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Keane will be speaking on the subject: ‘AI and its likely impact on optometry and ophthalmology’.

Keane explains: “The number of eye scans we’re performing is growing at a pace much faster than human experts are able to interpret them. There is a risk that this may cause delays in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases, which can be devastating for patients.

“The AI technology we’re developing is designed to prioritise patients who need to be seen and treated urgently by a doctor or eye care professional. If we can diagnose and treat eye conditions early, it gives us the best chance of saving people’s sight. With further research it could lead to greater consistency and quality of care for patients with eye problems in the future.

“If this technology can be used more widely – in particular by healthcare professionals without computer programming experience – it will really speed up the development of these systems with the potential for significant patient benefits. The process needs refining and regulation, but our results show promise for the future expansion of AI in medical diagnosis.”

Technological change and innovation are the key themes for Optrafair 20/20, which runs from 4 – 6 April 2020 at Birmingham NEC. Optrafair is owned by FMO, whose Immediate Past Chairman Andy Yorke and FMO Chair Stuart Burn have secured a host of keynote lectures from industry leaders.

Regarding his lecture, Keane has said: “I will describe the motivation – and urgent need – to apply deep learning to optometry and ophthalmology, the processes required to establish a research collaboration between the NHS and a company like DeepMind, the initial results of our research, and finally, why I believe that optometry and ophthalmology could be fundamentally reinvented through the application of artificial intelligence.”

Confirming the importance of the research at Moorfields, Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “This is hugely exciting and exactly the type of technology which will benefit the NHS in the long term and improve patient care”.