The Aspen Retinal Detachment Society (ARDS) began with the vision of a small group of retinal specialists who recognized the need for a small, integrated society that brought its members together at a yearly meeting aimed at exploring the most significant advances in medical and surgical retina.
The unique aspect of this meeting was to be the quality of the faculty, the collegiality of the society, the depth of the presentations, and the integration of discussion as critical to the success of the meeting. These goals have established the foundation of a society that has spanned four decades, which in many ways are the most pivotal years in the development of the field of retina and virtually inclusive of the development of the entire specialty of vitrectomy surgery.
The ARDS History Project
In 2012, Dr. Tim Murray, Dr. Don D’Amico, and Karen Baranick, the ARDS Organizing Committee, realized and appreciated the critical role of archiving the history of the society and the ARDS history project was launched. Like many small societies, the ARDS had had no formal history, no record of its foundation, its early members, its meetings, venues, and events. In particular, so much of its history had been an oral history cultivated by its members. The ARDS history book, ARDS: 40 Years, captured that oral history and recorded it for our society. The book, like the ARDS itself, exists because of the quality of the members of the society. An ARDS website seemed like the natural extension of this.
The last 40+ years have seen the development of novel surgical strategies for vitreoretinal surgery, have seen the shift from scleral buckling to primary pars plana vitrectomy, have elucidated the shifting role of macular imaging from contact lens biomicroscopy to spectral domain OCT, have documented the paradigm shifts in treating neovascular AMD from observation of this blinding disease to laser ablation to pharmacologic intervention with anti-VEGF intravitreal injections, all of which have been presented, analyzed, discussed, and often uniquely integrated into clinical practices across the world through the forums of the ARDS.
The Evolution of the ARDS
Much recognition for any society must fundamentally focus on its founding members. This is no truer than for the ARDS, which owes its beginning, and its 40 year span, to the vision and dedication of these members. Even truer is the understanding of the importance of transition.
The ARDS has moved from a small, devoted meeting of several early innovators in retinal disease, to a much larger, more traditional, formalized meeting. Yet throughout this transition, the ARDS has remained true to its core principles of excellent teaching, innovative and in depth presentations, and intense dialogue between the speakers and the members. Further, societies that span several decades must evolve their membership and move to include both new members and new viewpoints. This has been a hallmark of the ARDS over the last decade, with shifts in new membership, recognition of new speakers but a continued focus on the integrative format of the society.
In 2002, the meeting incorporated formal organization with Karen Baranick, President of Medical Conference Planners International (MCPI), and in 2012 moved its venue from the venerable Snowmass Conference Center to the newly opened Viceroy Snowmass. This move in 2012 strengthened the society by placing it in a venue committed to excellent service and superb support.
Drs. D’Amico and Murray began service on the Organizing Committee and continued the ongoing focus on speaker excellence and audience participation. Interactive technologies for audience participation were deployed during this period to capture members responses. During this same period, the meeting presentations and discussions were scribed by several younger vitreoretinal surgeons and published for the ARDS, focused on a synopsis of the presentations with an integration of the audience discussion and formal response.
Remarkable presentations recognized the Taylor Smith Lectureship begun in 1984 and the first William O. Edward Founders Lecture in 2012 renamed the Founders Lecture in 2013. Ultimately, much of the knowledge imparted during the ARDS meeting took place around the formal presentations, including meeting discussion, informal breakfast and lunch gatherings, and late night post-meeting activities often eased through the use of medicinal potions.
A Grand Location
Finally, no mention of the ARDS could exclude the uniqueness of the venue for this meeting. Traditionally, the first week in March at Snowmass Village was, and will remain, the Aspen Retinal Detachment Society’s. It was this uniquely beautiful backdrop that framed our meeting. Many of our most treasured memories are watching our members and their families grow together year after year on a beautiful mountain while dedicating energy and focus to enhancing clinical care for patients both in the U.S. and worldwide.