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05 January 2004 (online)
My intention here is twofold: to thank you, and to present ourselves briefly as a new society to join EU in May 2004. Why thank you? The Slovenian Society of Ophthalmology had been kindly invited to participate in the joint symposium on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft in Berlin in 2002, which provided for wonderful professional and personal interaction. Throughout the congress, we have had many opportunities to learn how the German ophthalmological society cares for depth of knowledge, broad views and importance of personal integration of everyone. Special kindness to the guests has been most warmly personalised through then DOG president, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Lang and assisted by the knowledgeable organisational aid of Dr. Rolf Grewe. From our side, I wish to mention the initiative and efforts of Prim. Dr. Bojan Gračner, long-term director of Eye Department of Maribor Teaching Hospital and vice president of Slovenian Society of Ophthalmology. Sincere gratitude, to everyone that made it possible, is expressed herewith.
The Slovenian Society of Ophthalmology has just about 100 active ophthalmologists serving a population of 2 million. This certainly is not a large service, but, with some recent investments, it is modern and efficient: new University Eye Clinic in Ljubljana that offers full tertiary ophthalmic care was completed in 2001, and the second biggest Eye department in Maribor is just being renovated and extended. In addition, five regional departments in major towns along with private ophthamologists cover local needs and cataract surgeries, which, are done almost exclusively by phacoemulsification in topical anaesthesia. This is in part legacy of eng. Anton Banko, who had studied in Ljubljana and later moved to New York where he founded the Surgical Design Company. It is not often mentioned that Anton Banko was a co-author of the first patent for phacomachine with Charles Kelman in 1971. Mr. Banko, donated one machine called „Ocusystem I” to Ljubljana. In 1989 the team of three surgeons were invited to training in New York and the first operation was performed in Ljubljana in 1990. There could be other forms of Slovenian creativity mentioned such as the phaco-crack method, Er-YAG laser manufacture and use in oculoplastic surgery or HK-loop ERG electrodes, as internationally noted. But there is strong ambition in general, to strive for the better with wide professional awareness.
With DOG invitation, German ophthalmology made generous introduction to a new era of collaboration, which was strengthened after the returned visit of Prof. Dr. Gabriele and Prof. Dr. Gerhard Lang at 4th Slovenian Congress of Ophthalmology in Maribor in October 2002 (with 113 years of tradition of independent specialty in Slovenia). It was our mutual wish to contribute to the durability of our friendship by this joint edition. Some of our recent efforts and ideas are now before you and we are indeed looking forward to foster further cooperation within a common EU future.
Prof. Dr. Marko Hawlina
President of Slovenian Society of Ophthalmology