1. How does HSIOIRS promote interaction with other
Our society collaborates regularly with the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS). In the past 10 years, we have co-organized two winter meetings in Athens with the ESCRS. HSIOIRS participates in the European Registry of Quality Outcomes for Cataract and Refractive Surgery project, which is funded by the European Union. We also have co-organized several sessions at our meetings with the International Society of Refractive Surgery of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (ISRS/AAO). Other Hellenic societies, such as the Hellenic Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Hellenic Inflammation Study Society hold sessions at our annual meetings. We are often invited to organize roundtables on cataract and refractive surgery at national and local meetings.
2. How does HSIOIRS encourage young
ophthalmologists to get involved in the society?
We encourage young ophthalmologists to attend our annual meeting by offering a lower membership fee. We also offer a reduced fee for wet labs and clinical instruction courses. The high-communication wet labs are always sold out before the meeting, and the attendees are mainly residents and young ophthalmologists. In the past 3 years, residents have organized a 3-hour clinical instruction cataract course at our annual meeting. HSIOIRS also invites young doctors to write scientific review articles in our quarterly journal, Ophthalmic Surgical Notes. Most presentations at our annual meeting are included in an interactive DVD that we offer for free to all attendees and residents. The content of the DVD can also be viewed online at no cost for residents. Additionally, each year we offer a scholarship to a young ophthalmologist for a 2-month surgical skills improvement course abroad. The society covers expenses up to €15,000. All ophthalmologists in Greece, including residents, receive a complimentary copy of the Video Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery published by Robert H. Osher, MD.
3. What inspired you to become an ophthalmologist?
My father, Alexandros Papadopoulos, was an ophthalmologist, and he inspired me from a young age. I decided to become an ophthalmologist during my elementary school years. I liked to visit my father at his practice and watch him examine patients. I entered the OR for the first time at the age of 16 and started assisting my father in several eye operations, including intracapsular cataract extraction. I never considered learning another specialty; I always wanted to become an ophthalmologist.
4. What is the most challenging aspect of being the
director of two institutions?
Lack of time. There are so many things to accomplish in a short time. Fortunately, I have managed to maintain a balanced schedule that helps me devote the amount of time needed for each institution and to have some time with my family and for myself. Of course, some days I have a 14-hour, nonstop schedule that can be exhausting.
5. What do you enjoy most about working and
living in Greece?
Having traveled to many places around the world, I should say without hesitation that what I enjoy most is the good weather. Most of the time we have bright sunshine and mild temperatures in winter—rarely do we have extreme weather conditions. The beautiful beaches on the islands and the mainland are in close proximity. We also have many winter ski resorts all over the country. I should not forget to mention the delicious food. should say without hesitation that what I enjoy most is the good weather. Most of the time we have bright sunshine and mild temperatures in winter—rarely do we have extreme weather conditions. The beautiful beaches on the islands and the mainland are in close proximity. We also have many winter ski resorts all over the country. I should not forget to mention the delicious food.
Scientifically, we have access to all facilities that modern ophthalmology can offer. In the field of refractive surgery, thanks to the efforts of some distinguished ophthalmologists, our country plays a leading role. As you all know, the first LASIK procedure was performed in Greece in 1990 by Ioannis Pallikaris, MD. The ESCRS has declared 2010 The Year of LASIK.
On the other hand, working conditions are extremely hard, especially for young ophthalmologists. We have too many doctors who struggle to survive in a difficult working environment. Salaries in public hospitals are lower than the EU average, and social security does not cover many expenses for patients. Private insurance companies have reduced doctors' fees in the past 10 years. Traditionally, Greek people have a personal relationship with their doctors. The main reason that they prefer to pay for medical expenses on their own—if they can afford it—is to have access to the doctor of their choice. The private health sector absorbs almost 45% of all medical expenses. Those who cannot afford a private doctor have to apply for medical assistance through the National Health System (ESY), which offers services much below the expected level for an EU country. Established 25 years ago, ESY is free for all citizens. The new government has promised to fix these issues.